Apulian wines continue their rising among the best Italian wines. Puglia has always been one of the most exuberant wine areas of Italy, but despite the wine tradition has a very ancient history, the production was almost always dominated by rustic and popular wines, which were consumed locally or sent to the north of Italy for the supermarkets’ export trade. However, in the last decades a revolution has been undertaken in the Apulian wine scene. The overall quality has improved considerably thanks to the initiative of numerous dynamic and quality-oriented producers who have shifted production from bulk red to elegant wines, characterized by a terroir that conveys a sense of place. There have also been some deep changes in viticultural practices and an infusion of modern winemaking technologies that have both push to emphasize quality over quantity. Not surprisingly, the Apulian producers have begun to receive praises. But this wine revolution is still at its begin and the best is perhaps yet to be achieved.
Puglia has four important wine areas. The first is Salento, the southernmost part of Puglia. This flat, fertile and sunny area represents more than half the DOC wine regions of Puglia. The main varieties of Salento wine are Negroamaro, Primitivo and Malvasia Nera.
The DOC Primitivo di Manduria area is a short distance east of Taranto on the Salento peninsula. It is a separate and distinct wine area of Salento and the source of some of the top Primitivo wines of Puglia. Primitivo di Manduria is both the name of a grape and the name of a wine, which tend to be dense, dark and fruity.
The area of Gioia del Colle is located north of Salento and a short distance from Bari. The temperatures in this area tend to be more moderate than those of Salento so the Primitivo wines of this area tend to be a little more acid and sober compared to those of Manduria. The Gioia del Colle Primitivo is often mixed with other red varieties such as Montepulciano, Negroamaro or Malvasia Nera. The wine area of Gioia del Colle is forging an impressive identity that has great promise for the future.
A little further north, in central Puglia, there is the Castel del Monte DOC area. This rather large wine area takes its name from the 19th-century fortress built by Emperor Frederick II. The fortress is a landmark of medieval military architecture and one of the great tourist sites of Puglia. The most distinctive wines of the Castel del Monte area are based on the local Nero di Troia variety. This variety can produce elegant wines with floral aromas and solid and tannic structures. The Nero di Troia wines have gained more attention and recognition as some of the best in Puglia. Among the other noteworthy wines of Castel del Monte are those produced with Aglianico and occasionally with the Bombino Nero varieties. Aglianico is an emerging star in the Castel del Monte area that has the potential to become one of the top red wines of Puglia
Here are some of the best wineries and producers in Puglia.
Carvinea winery is located near Carovigno, which is a few miles south of Ostuni in the countryside of the upper Salento. Carvinea cultivates the Primitivo and the Negroamaro, as well as Montepulciano and Aglianico.
Filippo Cassano founded Polvanera wineryin 2003 a few miles north of Gioia del Colle, in the center of Puglia. The company currently has about 62 hectares of vineyards, of which about 60% is destined for the Primitivo and the rest for various other native red and white varieties. All Polvanera wines are certified organic.
Chiaromonte winery was founded in 1826 in the DOC area of Gioia del Colle. This region is recognized as the ancestral home of Primitivo in Italy and Chiaromonte specializes in wines based on Primitivo. All the vineyards of the company are certified organic. Numerous awards and enthusiastic reviews of his wines testify to the success of this winery’s initiatives.
I Pastini winery was established in 1996 and is located in the heart of Valle d’Itria (the Trulli Valley). They use ancient viticultural traditions with the aid of modern enological techniques in order to obtain wines that express the new face of the local viticulture. Managed by Carparelli family on an area of 12 hectares with the aim of recovering and enhancing the native vines: Verdeca, Bianco d’Alessano and Minutolo, varieties that confirm the ancient wine vocation.
Gianfranco Fino founded his winery in 2004 with the purchase of a small vineyard with 50-year-old vines in the Manduria region. In the following decade it purchased additional vineyard properties and today the property covers 37 acres that include some ancient-growing vineyards. Gianfranco’s success was officially recognized in 2010 when he received the Winemaker of the Year award from Gambero Rosso, one of the first winemakers in southern Italy to be so honored.
Rivera is another winery that has become an example for the production of quality wine in Puglia. In the process, the Rivera estate also highlighted the great potential of Castel del Monte DOC area for the production of quality wines. While Nero di Troia is the main variety in the area of Castel del Monte, in this winery other indigenous varieties are also cultivated such as Bombino Nero, Montepulciano and Aglianico.
Due Palme winery was founded in 1989 in Cellino San Marco when three large wine cooperatives decided to merge into a single entity. Due Palme has grown over time and today is one of the largest cooperative wineries in Puglia with around 400 producers representing a total of 6,200 hectares of vineyards in the upper Salento. It has a broad portfolio of wines ranging from dry red and white wines to sweet and sparkling wines. Despite its size and cooperative structure, it is generally recognized as one of the top wine producers in Puglia and, year after year, it produces fantastic wines.
Marchesi Antinori, one of the most famous names in the world of Italian wine, founded Tormaresca winery in Puglia at the end of the 1990s as part of a broad initiative of national and international expansion beyond the traditional Tuscan base. The Tormaresca winery is made up of two structures: a giant 620-acre estate in the Salento DOC and a smaller – but still large – 320-acre estate in the Castel del Monte area. Both companies cultivate a mix of traditional native varieties as well as “international” varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.
Viglione winery is located near Santeramo in Colle, in the highest point of the DOC area of Gioia del Colle. While Viglione focuses on the production of Primitivo wines, some other traditional native varieties also grow.
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