The first time I went to Puglia was in 1983. I have gone back a number of times because of the wine, food and the unique culture. For ten years I was the sommelier/wine director of I Trulli restaurant in NYC. Trulli are the traditional cone shaped houses in Puglia, so I really got to know the wine and the food and have always enjoyed it.
A few months ago, Nicola Campanile, organizer of Radici del Sud 2016 in Puglia, invited me to attend the weeklong wine tasting and judging of the wines of Southern Italy.
When we arrived at the hotel, the other attendees and I, from 13 different countries, were divided into two groups: buyers and press. The buyers stayed in the hotel and tasted wine while the press spent two days and nights on the road.
Our guide and translator was Ole Udsen. The way he was greeted by the producers and others that we met showed the high regard in which he was held, so I gave him the name “Mr. Puglia.” His knowledge of the wines and the region in general, was of the highest level.
The president of the organization is Marianna Cardone. The Women in Wine organized a tasting of 17 producers.
Each producer showed one wine. The format reminded me of musical chairs: I sat with a producer, tasted the wine and we talked. Then came an announcement to change places. This was done 17 times. It was very informative and enabled me to learn a lot in a short time.
There was even a type of wine I had never tasted before, the Tre Tomoli Rosa 2015 from Vignaflora, a Rosato made from the Susmaniello grape.
At the Paololeo Winery another organization DeGusto Salento: Association Del Negoamaro presented a tasting of 6 wines:
Negroamaro IGT Salento 2014 “Lago della Pergola” Vetrere
Negroamaro IGP Puglia 2013 “Taccorosso” Paolo Leo
Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2013”Aiace” Castello Monaci
Brindisi DOP Riserva 2011 “Vigna Flaminio” Vallone
At the Apollonio winery we tasted 6 wines:
Salento IGT 2013 “Mjere” Michele Caló
Salento IGT 2011 “Cento su Cento” Castel di Salve
Copertino Riserva DOP 2011 “Divoto” Apollonio
It was so windy that they could not open the umbrellas, so we tasted in the sun as you can see from the pictures. There were 6 wines:
Copertino DOP Rosato 2015 Marulli
Salento Rosato IGT 2013 Vigna Mazzi Rosa Del Golfo
Nardò DOC 2014 “Danza della Contessa” Bonsegna Salento IGP 2007 “Le Braci” Garofano
Salento IGT 2006 “Piromafo” Valle dell’Asso
Wine made from the Negroamaro grape can be 100% Negroamaro or blended with other grapes as in the case of Copertino, Salice Salentino and Brindisi Rosso, or made into a rose or a white wine. I became very fond of the Negroamaro in all its forms on this trip.
Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT “Rocci” 100% Negroamaro. The production area is the Santo Stefano Vineyard Alezio. The soil is clayish and the training system is espalier. The harvest takes place by hand the last week of August. The wine is vinified and aged in stainless steel. I have very little experience with Negroamaro vinified as a white wine but I was very pleased with the wines I tasted,
The 2012 was the only vintage that had been aged in barriques for about six months. The wines have a simple elegance, fruitiness with good minerality and a touch of the sea. The only wine that did not have these aromas and flavors, reflecting the land and the sea was the 2012.
At a tasting in the Castle in Gallipoli, we played musical chairs again but here there was enough time to speak to the producer and they had more than one wine. One of the best wines I tasted made from 100% Negroamaro was the Vecchie Vigna Alberelli 1947 from L’Astore Masseria presented by the owner Paolo Benegiamo. It is a wine which makes one stop and take notice.
Copertino Rosso DOC Riserva 2008, Cupertinum-Antica Cantina Del Salento 1935. I sold this wine at I Trulli and always liked it. It is a great value for the price and was later picked as one of the top wines by the press.
Next time a Ciro tasting, a Fiano Minutolo tasting, the blind tasting completion and the winners.