Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello 2018 Review

Susumaniello may be a wine that many Italian wine lovers haven’t heard of, particularly those outside of its native country.

There is a good reason for this.

During the 1990s, when the Italian wine industry was beginning its expansion into global territories in earnest, Susumaniello was not the most popular of wines. Many growers in the Apulia region had chosen to explant their vineyards, focusing on other more popular grapes in the process. For a short while, the wine was starting to come into danger of being an also-ran in the Italian wine pantheon.

But that changed when a man named Luigi Rubino decided to change the perception surrounding the Susumaniello grape.

He began a quest to develop great wines using what he viewed as one of the country’s most under-appreciated grapes.

The result was Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the 2018 vintage of the wine. But before we do, let’s discover the story of the remarkable company behind it.

The History

One of the biggest mistakes that an Italian wine lover can make is to assume that companies that have short histories are not capable of making superb wines. While the Antinori family and its near-contemporaries have deep histories to fall back on, it’s often the newer companies that introduce innovations or place focus on grapes that other producers overlook.

That’s what happened with Tenute Rubino.

In 1985, Tommaso Rubino bought two estates in Brindisi. An entrepreneur, Tommaso saw potential in the underused vineyards the estates hosted. Together with his family, Tommaso embarked on a re-evaluation of the land that he’d purchased.

The purchase of two more estates in the same region followed in 1990. This is also the time when the Rubino family’s collaboration with Piernicola Tondo began. A respected agronomist, Piernicola brought new insight into the potential of the family’s growing collection of vineyards. The stage was set for the revitalization of an underappreciated grape.

However, that revitalization would not begin in earnest until 1997.

It was in this year that Luigi Rubino completed his university studies. He began working with his father Tommaso, with the two collaborating to manage and develop a company that would focus on the development of niche products that offered extreme quality. Another step towards Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello had been made.

Two years later, Luigi embarks on a process the family calls a “grape transformation”. Having observed the declining popularity of Susumaniello over the years, Luigi saw that the grape’s potential was unrealised and that its qualities were underappreciated. He began work on the family’s four vineyards, transforming them into the perfect terroir on which to cultivate a grape that had flown under the radar of many an Italian wine enthusiast.

The year 2000 brought with it further collaborations. A joint effort between the family and a young oenologist named Luca Petrelli led to the creation of a wine named Visellio. While not the family’s flagship product, this wine showcased the potential their land had to produce attractive Italian wines. Buoyed by their success, the family and its collaborators began micro experiments on the Susumaniello grape.

This grape was on the verge of extinction at the time.

Tenute Rubino dedicated an extensive area of its vineyards to the cultivation of a grape that it believed was a symbol of the traditional winemaking of the Brindisi area. Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello wasn’t here yet.

But it was on its way.

First came the launch of Torre Testa. The first wine in the company’s Susumaniello project, the first vintage shows that Luigi was correct. It achieves the first Tre Bicchieri from the famed Gambero Rosso, with further high ratings showing Luigi that he and his family were on the right track.

2002 brought with it the launch of several new wines, including Jaddico, Saturnin, and Giancola. However, it was the launch of Oltremé that stood at. Leveraging all of the studying that the family had poured into its rare grape, this wine was the result of years of work and cultivation. It immediately began to develop a reputation as a must-have wine and, along with the family’s growing collection of products, Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello served as the springboard for a small explosion in popularity.

This growth continued to 2008 when the family began focusing more intently on promotion. By organising a series of annual events in the Brindisi region, the family managed to attract more tourists, which led to more attention for its wines. Now, Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello was not just an Italian wine. It was a cornerstone of a cultural revival project that helped more people to realise just how valuable the rare grape behind it truly was.

In the decade or so that has followed, Tenute Rubino has continued its growth as it has expanded its wine catalogue. But instead of digging further into that history, how about we switch focus to a remarkable wine that we believe all Italian wine lovers should try.

The Review

With its intense ruby red colouring tinged with the slighted hints of purple, Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello 2018 is a wine that offers an ageing potential of between 10 and 15 years. Best served at room temperature, the wine reveals its true qualities after just an hour of decanting time.

Once you examine the bouquet, you will experience delicate notes of red fruits, with cherries being among the most prominent. However, interesting notes of raspberry, mature plums, and pomegranate will also find their way to your nostrils, revealing this wine to be one that holds plenty of mysteries for the avid wine lover to explore.

To the taste, the wine reveals a mineral quality that represents the terroir that the Rubino family has worked so hard to cultivate. Its tannins are pleasant and soft, making this a great wine for the Italian wine novice to experiment with. These soft tannins also lend the wine a versatility, meaning it can be paired with everything from pasta and semi-cured cheeses to most meats and pork.

The Xtrawine team fell in love with Tenute Rubino Oltremé Susumaniello 2018, awarding it a 92/100 rating. And it can be yours today for less than €10 from the Xtrawine store.


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