Learn About The Ins-and-Outs of Italy’s Beautiful Puglia Wine Region & Wine Styles
Known as the “heel of Italy’s boot”, Puglia has a longstanding winemaking tradition, as it is one of Italy’s largest wine producing regions. Historically, most of the wine coming out of Puglia had been simple, cheap table wines meant for local consumption and supermarket export trade. However, this is no longer the case due to stricter regulations and local winemakers emphasizing on quality over quantity. Another important factor in Puglia’s shift towards more quality-oriented wines is thanks to outside investment from well-renowned Italian producers such as the Antinori family. Puglia now has over 25 DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) and 4 DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) areas.
Long and narrow, this Mediterranean region is what dreams are made of. A delightfully warm climate, beautiful green landscapes, stunning architecture and majestic views of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas complement the region’s extremely fertile soils and vast sea life, making Puglia home to some of Italy’s best food and wine. It is also a leading region in olive oil production, accounting for almost half of Italy’s overall production.
Puglia, also known as Apulia, is the land of voluptuous reds made with indigenous varieties. The three most important red grapes are Negroamaro, Primitivo and Uva di Troia (also known as Nero di Troia). Negroamaro is the most widely grown grape in the region and it is used to make some of the region’s best wines, including the budget-friendly and rustically delicious Salice Salentino. Primitivo delivers deep colored wines with ripe berry, spicy notes and a refreshing acidity. Fun fact, Primitivo is the same grape variety as California’s Zinfandel, native to the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. Look for Primitivo di Manduria and Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG, a sweet wine, as they are luscious examples of this grape. Uva di Troia makes the powerful, robust Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva DOCG.
Other red grapes planted in the region include Malvasia Nera, sometimes blended with Negroamaro; Aglianico, Campania’s main grape; and Bombino Nero, which is used to make some lovely fruity rosés and red table wines.
Due to Puglia’s warm Mediterranean climate, white wines account for a small percentage of the total production, however, they should not be dismissed. Indigenous grapes such as Bombino Bianco, Fiano Minutolo, Bianco d’Alessano and Verdeca are producing some interesting results, occasionally blended with international varieties such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. There are also some lovely, crisp wines being made from Greco and Malvasia.
Tasting wine is a sensorial experience, which makes Puglia the ultimate wine travel destination. I suggest taking the next flight out, carefully select a spot next to your favorite thousand year-old olive tree, let that Mediterranean breeze caress your skin and uncork the best Puglia has to offer.