Wines found in Italy’s ‘stiletto of the boot’

When you think of Italian wine regions, many think of Tuscany or Piedmont.  But it’s not often that Puglia, inside the so-called “heel of the boot,” comes to mind.

But the Antinori family, who has been making wine for 625 years, believes it should.

So they created Tormaresca to introduce the world to the wines of Puglia.

The rocky, arid terrain of Puglia makes up the spur and stiletto heel of Italy’s geographic boot and juts south along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea.

And according to Tormaresca’s head winemaker Renzo Cotarella, the minerals in Puglia’s soil “give the wine power, but the limestone underneath allows for good drainage to maintain acidity.”

That’s why Puglia is attracting the attention of winemakers and was named the “Top Wine Destination 2013” by Wine Enthusiast magazine.

Puglia is not new to winemaking – the region has been producing wine for over 3,000 years and is the third largest producer of wine grapes in Italy.  But after years of exporting the bulk of its precious juice to other regions and countries, Puglia is finally keeping its grapes at home to create its own wines.

Vito Palumbo, Tormaresca’s expert and brand ambassador, came to explain some of the indigenous grapes.

Of the reds, Negroamaro is the star; an earthy, rustic variety used in robust reds and fragrant rosati.  But the most well-known Puglian grape is Primitivo –a blacked skinned grape-- mainly because it has been shown to be a genetic twin to California’s Zinfandel. Swear – someone took the grapes to a lab to figure that out. But that makes the Primitivo an easy grape to introduce to Americans.

White wines currently make up only 40 percent of Puglia’s production, but that number is growing as wine drinkers discover the indigenous white grapes of the region.

Palumbo brought a few 100 percent estate grown and bottled wines for us to try

--Tormaresca 2013 Chardonnay Puglia IGT – Chardonnay with 100% Fiano

--Tormaresca 2012 Neprica Puglia IGT – Negroamaro, Primitivo, Cab

--Tormaresca 2012 Primitivo Puglia IGT – 100% Primitivo **new SKU in U.S.

--Tormaresca 2012 Torcicoda Salento IGT – 100% Primitivo

--Tormaresca 2008 Bocca di Lupo Castel del Monte DOC – 100% Aglianico

And the best part?  All these wines are under $30 – many of them are even under $20.

So go out and taste a piece of the Italian stiletto.

Cent’ Anni.