Italy Negroamaro Puglia Salice Salentino
There are few countries in the world with a viticultural history as long or as illustrious as that claimed by Italy. Grapes were first being grown and cultivated on Italian soil several thousand years ago by the Greeks and the Pheonicians, who named Italy 'Oenotria' – the land of wines – so impressed were they with the climate and the suitability of the soil for wine production. Of course, it was the rise of the Roman Empire which had the most lasting influence on wine production in Italy, and their influence can still be felt today, as much of the riches of the empire came about through their enthusiasm for producing wines and exporting it to neighbouring countries. Since those times, a vast amount of Italian land has remained primarily for vine cultivation, and thousands of wineries can be found throughout the entire length and breadth of this beautiful country, drenched in Mediterranean sunshine and benefiting from the excellent fertile soils found there. Italy remains very much a 'land of wines', and one could not imagine this country, its landscape and culture, without it.
One of the key grapes of the ever-growing Puglia wine industry is the Negroamaro, a native grape of this southern Italian region, famed for its deep, bloody red color and excellent set of flavors Indeed, many of the finest and most highly esteemed full bodied red wines of Puglia are made using the Negroamaro varietal grape, and it is grown most notably in the Salento area of the region, where it makes several types of red wine enjoyed locally and sold overseas. The name 'Negroamaro' means 'black-bitter', giving some clue as to one of the key features of the grape. Wines made with Negroamaro do indeed hold quite a lot of earthy bitterness, but generally are celebrated for their 'rustic' taste and extremely aromatic qualities.
The southern Italian region of Puglia, known as the 'heel' of the country, is home to Italy's most up and coming wineries, keen to demonstrate to the world that the poor reputation they had in the seventies and eighties no longer applies. The wines of Puglia are certainly full of character, often big, bright and juicy, and full of strong dark fruit flavours. The Puglian wines are also renowned for being slightly more alcoholic and structured than those found further north, giving wine drinkers plenty to experience and discuss when sampling the region's complex and fascinating wares. Puglia is, in essence, a region of deep traditions, and the wine makers there are determined to stick to their traditional techniques and methods, and keep the unique identity of Puglian wine alive in the twenty first century.