Puglia wine region

Famed as the heel of Italy, Puglia actually extends north to just above the Gargano peninsula, the spur on the back of Italy’s boot. It has a wealth of native grape varieties, but this historically poor and remote area long concentrated on producing strong bulk wine for making into vermouth or for shipping north to beef up other regions’ blends.
All this is changing fast, as improved winemaking techniques and a new wave of quality-minded producers are transforming the region’s reputation.
The southern half of Puglia is the heel proper, the Salento peninsula. It’s hot and flat, but cooled by sea breezes from both the Adriatic and Ionian seas.
The signature grape of Salento’s south-western side, the Ionian coast, is Primitivo. This is the same grape as California’s Zinfandel and produces very full-bodied, richly dark-fruited, often over-alcoholic reds that nevertheless have the acidity and tannic structure to age.
Across on Salento’s north-eastern, Adriatic coast the Negroamaro dominates in DOCs like Copertino, Squinzano and Salice Salentino. These are less tannic and acidic than the Primitivo reds with more spice notes and red fruit flavours, though over-ripeness and over-oaking can be a problem here too.
The northern half of Puglia is dominated by another local black grape, the Nero di Troia. Traditionally blended with softer varieties to tame its ferocious tannins, improved techniques mean it’s increasingly used alone to craft savoury, characterful reds. Excessive alcohol isn’t a problem because this variety ripens so late.
In the far north there are extensive plantings of well-known varieties like Montepulciano and Sangiovese, while in the centre the local Bombino Nero breaks the heavyweight Puglian mould to make fresh lively reds and fruity rosés. Puglia is overwhelming black grape country, but the local Verdeco and aromatic Minutolo produce some interesting dry whites.

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