Radici Wine Experience: Puglia

Radici Wine Experience: Puglia

 It looked like it would be an exciting trip to Puglia (also known as Apulia). There would be two days of tasting at the hotel with 36 producers, visits to wineries, a vertical tasting and discussion of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 of wines from two wineries–one from Puglia and one from Campania, a presentation of 3 books one on wine, one on pizza and one on food and travel in Apulia, restaurant awards and wine awards and all of this in just four days.

 I was invited by Franco Ziliani the Italian journalist at www.vinoalvino.org, one of the most respected web-sites in Italy and www.vinowire.com, the English version translation with commentary by Jeremy Parzen. The event was organized by Nicola Campanile.

Franco Ziliani

  There were 10 foreigners on the trip from Poland, Denmark and the US. We were divided into “buyers” and “journalists” and when we tasted with the producers, they tried to keep the journalists and the buyers separated but by the afternoon session of the first day they gave up. It was a very interesting group and we quickly understood that we had basically the same taste in wine. Franco Ziliani–in an article he wrote for the Italian Sommelier Association website stated–the main “lesson” of the Radici Wine Experience for the Apulian producers (is) there’s no unique American taste in wine and the “global American taste” they think still exists is part of the past.


 I could not agree more with Franco and it is a “lesson” that producers from other parts of Italy should note.  All the foreign buyers and journalists agreed. Over-oaked and over- extracted wines are a thing of the past. It is a very interesting article because Ziliani is an Italian journalist who has interacted with foreign journalists and buyers writing about Italian producers and the state of Italian wine.

Meeting with the producers

 The first morning as we entered the tasting area the producers were all lined up in a long narrow room at the hotel Masseria San Giovanni in Altamura waiting for us to enter. The format was simple, the wine writer or wine buyer would sit with the producer taste their wines as the producer talked about the wines and the winery. The tasting went on for two days with morning and afternoon sessions on each day. There were 9 producers at each session. The first day there were wineries that produced Primitivo and those producing wines from the Salento region. On the second day producers from Central and Northern Apulia, along with producers making Aglianico del Vulture (Basilicata), presented their wines.

 The Wines

 Bombino Bianco “Catapanus” 2009 Puglia IGT –D’Alfonso del Sordo. 100% Bombino Bianco. The wine is made from “ripe” grapes and is fermented in stainless steel tanks. The Bombino Bianco grape does very well in the soil here which is clay, sand and limestone.

 Greco 2009 Puglia IGT 100% Greco Casaltrinita many producers are now making Greco in Apulia. They are careful to point not that this is not Greco di Tufo, which comes from Campania, but this one is home grown.

 Chardonnay 2009 IGT Puglia 100% Chardonnay Tormaresca the wine is fermented in stainless steel, the malolatic fermentation takes places in second passage barriques and it is aged in French and Hungarian oak for three months. I did not find any oaky or vanilla aromas or flavors in the wine and found it very easy to drink. It was served with dinner at the Tormaresca winery and went very well with the food.

 Malvasia Bianco 2009 Salento IGT 100% Malvasia Bianca Agricola Conti Zecca Fermentation in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks and then aged in cement tanks covered with epoxy resin. This is a very pleasant fruity upfront wine that is very easy to drink.

 Falanghina “le Fossette” 100% Falanghia Alberto  Longo The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and kept on the fine lees for three months. This is a well balanced and structured wine with fruity and floral aromas and flavors.

 Locorotondo DOC 2009 60% Verdeca 35% BiancoD’Alessano and 5% Fiano Minutolo Cantina Albea Fermentation starts at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks after a firm maceration a 4/6ºC for 18 hours. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation.

 Moscato Reale “Garbino” 2009 Puglia IGT(Dry Moscato)  100% Moscato Reale di Trani.  Schinosa. The wine is very well balanced with nice flavors and aromas of citrus with hints of orange. Dry in the mouth but with a fruity finish and aftertaste.

 Mjere “Rose”2009 Salento IGT 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera.  Calo When I was the wine director for an Apulian restaurant in NYC, this was one of my favorite roses and became a favorite of our customers. It has aromas of cherries and strawberries.  It is fresh and fruity with a nice finish and lingering after taste.

 Fichimori  Salento IGT 2009 100% Negroamaro  Tormaresca  We had this wine with dinner at the Tormaresca winery. After the grapes are crushed a pre-fermentative maceration takes place and lasts for six days at 5ºC and then the fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. I had never had this wine before and it was a nice surprise. The wine was fresh and fruity with soft tannins and “only” 12% alcohol. It had flavors and aromas of cherries and other fresh red fruits and berries. We were told that the wine could be served chilled but I liked it at room temperature. The wine has its own Facebook page!

 Malia 2007 Salento Rosso IGT 100% Malvasia Nera Duca Carlo Guarini  Fermentation in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for nine days. Very nice red fruit with good acidity, good body and a long finish.

 Salice Salentino Rosso  DOC 2009 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera from Lecce  Feudi di Guagnano.  Fermentation lasts for about two weeks and the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Nice aromas and flavors of blackberries and a hint a prune.

 Cappello di Prete Salento IGT 2005 100% Negroamaro. Candido After cold fermentation the wine is matured in second passage barriques of Allier for five months. There are underlying hints of cherry and chocolate and touch of prune in the wine.

 Duca d’ Aragona Salento IGT 2004 80% Negro Amaro and 20% Montepulicano. Candido The wine is matured in second and third passage barriques for a period of time. This is a well-balanced wine with aromas and flavors of chocolate and cherry and it is drinking very well.

 Il Volo Di Alessandro 2007 Rosso Salento IGT 100% Sangiovese. Castel di Salve The grapes are picked in September by hand. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for 13 days, and then aged in stainless steel for nine months and four months in bottle before released. This wine had a lot of character, with aromas of prune and blackberries.

 Nero di Troia “Il Rinzacco” 2007 Castel del Monte DOC 100% Nero di Troia Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli. Skin contact for eight days and fermented in temperature controlled large Allier oak vats and then aged in the same vats for one year. I really liked the aromas and taste of this wine; undertones of violet and aromas and flavors of dark berries, blackberries and blueberries with a hint of spice.

 Agliancio “petriGama” 2007 IGT 100% Aglianico Azienda Agricola Tarantini. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for nine months in stainless steel. This wine tasted like the soil and the gapes from which it came. It has aromas of strawberries and blackberries with a very nice cherry finish and aftertaste. It is an excellent wine with food. They told me that they were doing away with all their barriques and next year would only use stainless steel and botte grande(large barrels)

 Nero 2007 Salento Rosso IGT 70% Negroamaro and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon Azienda Conti Zecca Maceration is for 15 days or more. The wine is aged for 18 months is barriques (second passage) and then in 30 HL oak barrels for 12 months and 6 months in bottle before it is released. This was always a big wine and in the past I felt that it was a little over the top. Now the wine is elegant, well balanced with dark fruit aromas and flavors, a nice after taste and great finish.

 Primitivo Riserva Gioia del Colle DOC 2007 DOC 100% Primitivo Azienda Agricola Giuliani The wine is aged in botte grande and a small amount is in barriques. Well balanced wine and for a Primitivo, if one can use the term “elegant”, with licorice, tobacco and a hint of herbs and acidity.

 Primitivo di Manduria  2009  100% Primitivo. Macchiarola The grapes are harvested the last week in August and the first week in September. Maceration in stainless steel for ten days, the wine then under goes malolatic fermentation. The wine is bottled without filtering or cold-stabilizing. The wine has aromas and flavors of cherry, chocolate and spice and a hint of prune.

 Primitivo di Manduria “Il Sava” 2004 DOC Savese 100% Primitivo.  The grapes are harvested at the end of September when they become raisin-like. The wine is fermented in glass lined cement tanks after which 90% goes into large amphorae and 10% is refined in small oak barrels. The wine is aged in French oak for eight months. This is a big dessert wine with a port like character. Rich and smooth with intense dried fruit aromas. It is only made in the best years. It will age.

 Moscato di Trani  2006 DOC 100%  Moscato Reale di Trani.  Schinosa The grapes are left to wither for about a month until the middle of October. This is a well balanced and full favored dessert wine with aromas and flavors of apricots and almonds. It has a long finish and nice aftertaste.

 After several years as wine director of an Apulian restaurant and having visited Puglia a number of times in the past, I believed that I had a fair knowledge of the wineries and the wines. This Radici Experience showed me that I was mistaken. First of all there were so many new wineries now producing wine and many were going organic.

To have the opportunity to be able to taste wine and to talk to the winemakers and to ask questions is the best way to learn. Tasting white wine made from Bombino Bianco, Verdeca, Bianco d’ Alessano, Minutolo (once called Minutolo Fiano) and Malvasia di Candia among others gave me a new appreciation of the white wines from this region.  Tasting wines made from Bombino Nero, Malvasia Nera, Sumaniello, Nero di Troia , Negroamaro, Primitivo and Aglianico side by side showed the great range of Puglia’s red wines, too.

 Next time:  more on my visits to the wineries, a vertical of Taurasi and Patriglione, notes on Aglianico del Vulture and more.

  I am now on Valerie’s NY www.wor710.com Every Wednesday at 6:05 talking about. Wine.

 Make pizza with Roberto of Keste, make pasta with Michele, and drink wine with me. Rome, Naples and everything in between www.loveofpizzatour.com


Filed under Italian Wine, Puglia

4 responses to “Radici Wine Experience: Puglia

  1. you took me back to my second home


  2. charlesscicolone

    Ciao Mattie- glad the article made you feel like you were home


  3. angelo

    Glad to see you will be on with Valarie on WOR radio. I look forward to your comments on wine there as well as reading them on your blog.
    I really enjoyed your blog a few months back about the wines of Campagnia. It reminded me when I had gone to Gesualdo in ’06 visiting relatives and had the chance to taste the wines of Pasquale DePrisco when we were at a feast in Fontannaossa. I need to see if I can find them here in New York. Do you have any information as to carries his wines in New York City or Long Island? Thanks in advance, Angelo.


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