Puglia is the region which comprises what we could call the heel of Italy’s boot, situated in the country’s south east corner and extending out into the Mediterranean Sea. The region is generally very hot, with flat ground and constant breezes through the Salento peninsula. With these conditions, it’s unsurprising that Puglia is considered one of the country’s prime spots for agriculture.
When we imagine the picturesque Italian countryside, we’ll often picture acres of lush fields basking under a golden sun. The real Puglia isn’t far from this, and unsurprisingly, Puglia produces 70% of all olives and a majority of the pasta for the entire country. On top of this, the fertile ground and optimum weather conditions make Puglia a hot spot for the growing of grapes.
Puglia is world famous for the production of wine, with 17% of the entire world’s supply originating in this region. Puglia was originally seen as a place to grow grapes inexpensively, which would then be added to low quality wine from elsewhere to provide substance. However, a change in perspectives and practices over the past two decades has seen a resurgence in the production of high quality red’s and rosé’s.
White wines typically take a back seat in Puglia, with the dark Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes proving to be most popular. Negroamaro is literally translated as “Blackest of the black”, based on the Greek and Latin languages of the region’s early inhabitants. Almost exclusively grown in Puglia and the Salento peninsula, the grape resist drought well and produces large bunches. The grapes themselves are thick-skinned and dark red in colour, leading to the characteristic dark colour of the region’s wines.
Alongside being used in mono-varietal products like Graticciaia, on certain wines Negroamaro is also found as the dominant grape of a blend. You may have previously tried Notarpanaro, which is a mix of Negroamaro and Mlavasia Nera, or Divoto, in which it is mixed with Montepulciano. Negroamaro contributes towards wines which are both red and rosé, still and frizzante. This means that regardless of your individual preferences, the chances are that you can experience the unique taste of this most celebrated of Puglia’s grapes.
Puglia’s other famous grape is the Primitivo, which is named so due to its quick ripening process. The Primitivo is genetically identical to the Zinfandel grape, which has been cultivated heavily in California since the 18th century. With a comparatively high sugar content, the Primitivo is renowned for sweet and full-bodied tastes, with the potential for alcohol content to surpass 15%. Wines like Primitivo di Manduria and Dunico are manufactured exclusively from Puglia’s Primitivo grape, but mixes are also available, like the Amativo with is a 60-40 blend with Negroamaro.