Salento lies east of the Apulia region, in the deep south of Italy. Warm and friendly and preserved by a centuries-old isolation, it has kept its genuine folklore and ancient wine-growing tradition alive. As the heel of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula as well as its easternmost part – from the beautiful cliffs of the Adriatic sea to...
Salento lies east of the Apulia region, in the deep south of Italy. Warm and friendly and preserved by a centuries-old isolation, it has kept its genuine folklore and ancient wine-growing tradition alive. As the heel of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula as well as its easternmost part – from the beautiful cliffs of the Adriatic sea to the gentle, sandy beaches of the Ionian sea – Salento boasts the highest number of DOC wines produced in Apulia. Acres of vineyards alternate between olives groves enclosed by low dry-stone walls and Mediterranean shrubs. Its thick vegetation, fruits and flowers were a source of inspiration for the skilful craftsmen working in the city of Lecce during the Baroque period, who richly embellished churches, convents and palaces with the symbols of the age, thus representing – or invoking – the generosity and fertility of a friendly and rich land. It is thanks to this natural and architectural beauty that Salento is now one of the most popular destinations in Italy. Its natural capital is Lecce, which has retained its historical and cultural identity more than any other city of Apulia. Named “the Florence of southern Italy” for its beautiful monuments, Lecce is renowned for its Baroque architecture and sculptures, which spread throughout the province since the 16th century thanks to a malleable, compact, smooth, honey-coloured limestone known as “Lecce stone”, which is used to enrich streets, balconies, palaces and churches. Local artisans, equipped with planes and chisels, still use Lecce stone in their workshops to craft sculptures and other precious items. One of the symbols of Lecce is the recently restored Chiesa di Santa Croce (Church of the Holy Cross, 1549), which is near Sant’Oronzo square, in the very heart of the city.
Vitigno salentino per eccellenza: il Negroamaro.
Vitigni fortemente identificativi del territorio: Primitivo, l’Aleatico, la Malvasia nera di Brindisi e di Lecce.
Black-skinned grape variety. While its origin is uncertain, it was probably brought into the Ionian region by Greeks. The result of thousands of years of natural selection to adapt to diverse soil characteristics, Negroamaro is now the king of Salento’s grapes. It is grown almost exclusively in Puglia and particularly in Salento, and its name («niuru mavru»: from the Latin word niger plus the Greek mavros, both meaning ‘black’) is related to its dark colour. Ripening: late. Tolerance: resistant to Peronospora, grey mould and vine moth. Wine features: Alcohol levels 11-14%; pH 3.15-3.4; total acidity 5-9 gm/l.
Probably brought into Apulia for the first time by Phoenicians or by Greeks, Primitivo was then selected, planted and distributed by Father Francesco Filippo Indellicati, the priest of the church at Gioia del Colle, Bari, at the end of the 18th century. As its name suggests, its main feature is that of being an ‘early’ (‘primo’) ripening grape variety. Ripening: early. Tolerance: resistant to Peronospora, sensitive to high temperatures and dry conditions. Wine features: Alcohol levels 12-16%; pH 3.2-3.4; total acidity 6-9 gm/l – pH 3.15-3.4, total acidity 7.5-10 gm/l.
This gets its name from an excellent wine that was made in Malta and traded by Venetian merchants. Later spread throughout the province of Lecce, it is now grown together with Negroamaro. Unlike the original eastern Malvasias, this does not have a slightly bitter, Muscat fragrance and flavour. Ripening: medium/late. Tolerance: low resistance to Peronospora, good resistance to heat and cold. Wine features: alcohol levels 10-12.5%; pH 3.15-3.4; total acidità 7.5-10 gm/l.
Probably native to Greece and the Aegean Islands, this grape variety was later diffused throughout Apulia, particularly in the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto. When used as a blending grape, it helps to round out overly sharp wines. Ripening: medium/late. Tolerance: low resistance to Peronospora, good resistance to heat and cold. Wine features: alcohol levels 11-13.5%; pH 3.1-3.4; total acidity 5-9 gm/l.
It is a green-skinned grape variety of unknown origin, though it may date back to 1870. Grown in the areas of Martina Franca (Taranto), Locorotondo (Bari), Cisternino (Brindisi). Tolerance: good resistance to iodine and Peronospora. It does not tolerate frost. Wine features: alcohol levels 11-13%; pH 3.20-3.45; total acidity 5-9 gm/l.
Probably originated in Spain, it is a high-yielding, green-skinned grape variety, primarily planted in the south of Italy, most notably in Apulia. Ripening: medium/late. Tolerance: highly resistant to hoarfrost. Wine features: alcohol levels 11-12.5%; pH 3.15-3.40; total acidity: 5.5-7 gm/l.
Probably brought to Italy by ancient Greeks, it is suspected to be a variant of Muscat grapes. Its name could stem from the Greek version of ‘July’, the month in which it ripens. Ripening: early/medium. Tolerance: it dislikes humid springs. Wine features: alcohol leves 12-18%; pH 3.4-3.6; total acidity 5.5-7 gm/l.
One of the most ancient and characteristic grape varieties of centre-north Apulia, it may have been native to the Asia Minor, then brought to Apulia during Greek colonization. Ripening: medium/late. Tolerance: low resistance to Peronospora. Wine features: alcohol levels 11-14.5%; pH 3.2-3.5; total acidity 4.5-8 gm/l.
This is a black-skinned grape variety native to Apulia, especially Salento. As its name suggests, its vines have a high yielding capacity (‘carico come un somarello’, ‘laden like a donkey’). From Susumaniello a deep ruby red wine is made, with rustic undertones, particularly those of fruit and vegetables. Its nose has fruity notes of plums, soft fruits, and red fruit jam. Its spicy aromas of pepper and vanilla are also quite pleasant.
Black-skinned grape variety mostly planted in Abruzzo, Marche, Umbria and Apulia regions. It ripens late in the season, usually during the first weeks of October. Montepulciano-based wines are characterized by thick, smooth and less aggressive tannins, by cherry and Marasca cherry undertones, and by a full finish, with noticeable extract and alcohol levels.
Its name stems from France’s Mâconnais town of Chardonnay, in the Burgundy region, from which it spread throughout the world since the late 19th century. Its origins are uncertain, but some experts believe that it could be native to the Middle East, while for others it was the result of a spontaneous cross between a wild vine and a vine native to the ancient Illyria region. Chardonnay plantings can be found in most regions of Italy.
This is a green-skinned grape variety, native to the Bordeaux region of France. It gets its name from the French word sauvage ("wild") due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in southwest France. Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions.
Its origins are uncertain, and the first documented mentioning of Sangiovese appeared in the 16th century. Even its name has an uncertain origin: some people claim that it stems from “sangiovannese”, given its possible origin in San Giovanni Valdarno, a town in the Arezzo province of Tuscany. Others believe that it can be traced back to dialect forms, or even to the phrase “sanguegiovese” (‘blood of Jupiter’), native to Monte Giove (‘Mount Jupiter’) near the town of Santarcangelo di Romagna, in the province of Rimini, Emilia-Romagna. It is one of the most widely planted vine varieties in Italy.