The wines of Puglia have recently gained the recognition that their undoubted quality merits.
At regular intervals I will post winetasting notes of Pugliese wines on these pages. These will follow no set pattern as the wines tasted will depend upon what I might be able to get my hands on, however I hope readers will find them interesting. I shall also be posting regular articles in more detail than shown below on the individual wine regions of Puglia.
The tradition of winemaking in Puglia stretches back to the Phoenicians who are believed to have practised viticulture as far back as 2000BC. It was so well entrenched by the time the Greeks arrived, they called Puglia Enotria or Wineland.
Until the 1980,s wine tended to be produced in quantity for blending both in Italy and abroad. Indeed a large amount of the grapes from the north of the region bordering on Molise and Basilicata are still used for this purpose or to produce simple table wines.
The attributes of long hot summers and stony terrain of the region for producing top quality wines have now been recognised by many overseas winemakers along with some of the best known winemakers from northern and central Italy. Among those producers that have chosen to invest heavily in Puglia are the Italian houses of Antinori, Avignonesi, Pasqua and Feudo di San Gregorio. Californians Kendall Jackson are also well entrenched.
However for all the attention of well known “flying winemakers” much of the finest wine is stil produced by indigenous producers such as the Garofanos, the Candidos and the Vallones, to name just three of many.
Simplistically it can be said that the best whites are produced in the province of Bari and in the areas of Locorotondo and Martina Franca.
In Bari province the DOC’s Castel del Monte and Gravina are amongst the best known. Castel del Monte was named after the famous octagonal castle built by the Swabian Emperor Frederick 11 in the 13th Century. Grapes used here are Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc,
Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. here is also a fine red, Rivera’s “Il Falcone” which uses a
blend of Uve di Troia, Aglianico and Montepuliano.
While Gravina produces mostly average whites from local grape varieties, it also produces
a good Rosso del Murge called Pier delle Vigne.
Most of the wines made in the Locorotondo, Martina Franca and Ostuni comunes use the
indigenous Verdeca and Bianco d’Alessano with unofficial help from Chardonnay to give
greater body and fruit.
The three most important grape varieties used in the production of the best red wines in
the southern Salentine Peninsula region are Negroamaro, Primitivo and Uve di Troia.
Primitivo di Manduria, a table wine with a minimum 14% alcohol but can be as high as 18%
comes from the area to the east of Taranto, including the town of Manduria which had the
dubious privilege of being burned to the ground by the Romans for harbouring Hannibal’s
army. The DOC’s here are Sava and Manduria.
Other than the province of Taranto, the other two provinces on the Salentine peninsula
concerned with the production of red wine are Brindisi and Lecce. Here Malvasia Nera,
Montepulciano and Sangiovese are used along with the aforementioned grape types
DOC’s of importance here include Salice Salentino, Copertino, Squinzano, Brindisi,
Leverano, Alezio, Matino and Nardo
The intense heat in this southern region ensures that the majority of the wines have a
very high alcoholic content due to the high level of sugar in the ripened grapes.