Epicuro Riserva

This $5 red from the Salice Salentino region of southern Italy is a blend of Negroamaro (80%) and Malvasia Nera (20%) grapes. We really hoped this would be one of those off-the-beaten-path wine regions that grows generally-unheard-of varietals that can turn out really interesting wine at a reasonable price. It might be, but the Epicuro Riserva isn’t such a wine. The smell of this one is absolutely awful, and almost certainly the result of a very bad Brettanomyces infestation.

  • I haven’t tasted the ’06 in a few months, but the Salice Salentino is one of the tastiest and most dependable of the Epicuro offerings, so I find myself pretty shocked by your rating. Your review mentions nothing about the wine other than your complaint about the presence of Brett on the nose (which, it should be noted, is a characteristic not universally reviled, especially at this price point), and the phrase “absolutely awful” suggests to me that you may have just gotten a bad bottle. In my experience, this is a brooding, earthy red with notes of birch bark and blackberries, and one that vastly overperforms for $4.99.

    The entire Epicuro lineup is worth a second glance — they consistently deliver some of the best values at Trader Joe’s. The Aglianico has slipped a bit from its stellar early vintages (’05 and ’06), but the Salice Salentino and Nero d’Avola have been fairly consistent, the Vermentino is a delightful white, and the new Primitivo rivals the Rabbit Ridge “Allure de Robles” for most well-balanced $4.99 fruit bomb in the store.