The deliciously cool evenings of September call for light, fun reds — it’s still too warm to crack open the really serious stuff. While picking up a few odds and ends at Trader Joe’s, I noticed a $7 bottle of 2007 Epicuro Salice Salentino, a sunny red from Puglia, and for a Denominazione di Origine Controllata Riserva, it seemed like a steal.
Until, that is, I read up a bit on the Italian wine classification system. According to Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, the DOC classification system was created in the 1960’s, when Italian wine was arguably at its worst. New wines and new techniques fit poorly into the government’s system, and subsequent revisions to the system have helped but little (Super Tuscans being a notable exception). Even now, innovation continues to be stifled by poorly designed government regulations.
So much for my system of seeking out wines with Controllata, Riserva or Controllata e Garantita on the label.
In any case, $7 seemed hard to beat, the inconsistencies of the DOC structure notwithstanding. I suspect it was so inexpensive because it was already old; wines like this aren’t really meant to age. I uncorked it and hoped for the best.