Hailing from Puglia, Italy, come some of the best grapes in the world used for producing amazing wine. Primitivo, Negroamaro and Nero di Troia dominate the heel of Italy’s boot; vineyards are numerous, as are the wine created from the precious fruit. Puglia is the world’s largest wine producer!
We had the pleasure of visiting several Cantinas in Puglia, each showcasing their variety of wines harvested locally, usually from their own vineyards. Some offered production tours, some offered tastings, most did not disappoint.
Primitivo, grown in the province Taranto, was so named because of the early ripening of the intense flavoured very dark grapes – usually harvest ready in August. Producing full bodied wine, high in alcohol, the taste characteristics are defined as jammy with dark cherry, mingling with hints of raspberry, blackberry and cloves.
It is believed that Primitivo originated in Croatia and was brought across to Puglia in the 18th Century. Although it is normally considered a food wine, I have found several types which are fabulous for meditation. They can reach an unbelievable alcohol level of 16° to 18°.
Negroamaro is a very deep, black coloured grape with taste characteristics including black currant, cherry, blackberry and cloves with cinnamon undertones. It is almost exclusive to the Salento region (provinces Brindisi and Lecce) and is usually harvested in late September. Greek colonists likely brought the plant to Italy in the 8th century BC. The alcohol content usually hovers around the 14° level.
Negroamaro is a great blending wine because the aroma does not distract from other grapes and it adds often desired alcohol volume and body.
Nero di Troia, with Adriatic origins, grows in the Provinces Bari and Foggia, the very Northern part of the heel and above. Usually not harvested until late October to allow for softer tannins and immense flavour, it’s taste characteristics include tobacco, black pepper, cherry and blackcurrant.
It is certainly worth mentioning that perhaps the secret to the fabulous Pugliese wine is the soil; dense red clay, high in iron-oxide translates into sweet, structured, full-bodied black wine.