Nero di Troia wine grape
Nero di Troia
This grape is more properly known as Uva di Troia (“Grape of Troy”), but you’re much more likely to see Nero di Troia (“Black of Troy”) on labels. The rebranding is probably inspired by the recent success of Sicilian grape Nero d’Avola.
Nero di Troia is one of the three main black grapes of Puglia, along with the rather better-known Negroamaro and Primitivo. Puglia is the sunbaked region occupying the heel of Italy, within which Nero di Troia is concentrated in the north while Primitivo and Negroamaro dominate in the heel proper - the Salento peninsula.
The variety is not named directly after the Troy of Homer, but for a small town called Troia lying 25 kilometres southwest of Foggia, northern Puglia’s chief city. However, Troia itself, along with several other towns in the province of Foggia, is supposed to have been founded by the Greek hero Diomedes on his way home from the sack of ancient Troy, so perhaps the name can be regarded as a spoil of war.
Genetic analysis suggests that the grape is itself of Greek (or at least Adriatic) origin. Its closest relatives are found not in Italy but across the Adriatic Sea in Albania.
It’s a deep-coloured, thick-skinned grape, rich in tannins. Its wine has scents of dried cherries, herbs and pungent spice, and flavours of black fruits. It ripens very late, though that’s not a big problem in the Puglian climate. The problem has been that it ripens unevenly.
Puglia has long been known as a source of bulk wine, and the grape has been selected for centuries in favour of high yields. This has produced two forms: the large-berried, high-yielding
with very compact clusters, and the older, small-berried
where the grapes are not packed so tightly. The latter produces better wine, because the grapes can ripen evenly. Grapes in the centre of
’s large-berried, compact clusters are shielded from the sun and are hence underripe when picked, contributing harsh acidity and tough green tannins to the resulting wine.
The traditional solution has been to blend it with softer varieties like Montepulciano, which is why, until recently, there were no varietal DOC wines made from it. North Puglian DOCs like Castel del Monte may be based largely on Nero di Troia, but they’re all blends. However, in 2011 three new DOCGs were created within Castel del Monte, one of which is Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva.
Increasingly, however, the grape is appearing on its own under the IGT Puglia designation. Quality-conscious producers have found that actively restricting the vines' yields not only concentrates the juice but shrinks the berry size, allowing more even ripening.
Decanting Club wines containing: Nero di Troia
From Puglia, Italy
Tenuta Fujanera, Arrocco, Nero Di Troia
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