We are continuing with some attention on Italian wines, which we always have an affinity for and find great value in. This piece features the wine of Puglia.
Puglia is the southeastern most point in Italy, and the wines that are produced there are fantastic. The area was once known for mass producing grapes that were used for blending with other varietals, however in recent years the farmers and winemakers of Puglia have been refining their skills to make unique and highly sought after wines.
Puglia is bordered by the Adriatic Sea to the east with the Ionian Sea to the southeast. This region is the least mountainous in all of Italy with the northern part of the region having the highest elevation of 3,800 feet, the southern part of the region makes the heel of the boot of Italy. The soil in this region is predominantly limestone and iron rich. Due to the southern location and lack of elevation the region is warm and sunny with very little rain, add in the soil composition, and this makes for a unique terroir.
Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Malvasia Nera are the predominant indigenous red grape varietals in Puglia. Primitivo is Italy’s version of the very popular Zinfandel of California, it has been growing in Italy for far longer than in California. Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera are usually only grown in Puglia. These grapes thrive in the hot arid climate of Puglia, creating high sugar levels, in turn a high alcohol level. This presents the farmers and winemakers with a great challenge on when to harvest the grapes and methods of production.
One of my favorite producers of this region is Racemi, their Primitivo and Salento are both high quality wines that showcase the terroir of their vineyards. Racemi’s Primitivo di Manduria is 100% Primitivo made from vines over fifty years old. The vines lie in iron rich clay, and are harvested twice, once in August and again in September. The two harvests are blended together and then aged for nine months in new French oak. This helps create a well balanced wine, with beautiful ripe fruit, nice acidity and refined oak notes.
Racemi’s Felline Salento Rosso is a blend of equal parts Negroamaro and Primitivo. Harvest takes place in September, fermentation and aging takes place exclusively in stainless steel tanks, this allows the fruit to shine in this unique wine without the influence of oak. This wine has nice dark fruit notes, with firm tannic structure, balanced with lovely spice notes on the finish.
Cosimo Taurino is another fantastic producer from the Salento sub region of Puglia. This family owned estate has been producing great wines since the end of World War II. Taurino’s Salice Salentino is a blend of 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera. The wine is fermented in stainless steel then aged for six months in used barriques. This is a special wine with beautiful dark fruit and earthy notes rounded out by well balanced tannins.
The wines of Puglia are great wines for all types of red wine drinkers, from the friendly Salento Rosso, the big fruity Primitivo, to the bold and earthy Salice Salentino. I recommend trying these great wines, which are all outstanding values coming in under $15. If you have any questions on which will suit your palate best, or what foods to pair them with feel free to ask your local wine professional, or myself at email@example.com.