Puglia, the region of southern Italy, is also called “the heel of the boot.”
Most Puglia wine is red, full-bodied and will pair well with a wide variety of foods. Producers in Puglia have focused on making great red wines and local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Bombino Nero make for delicious drinking, some of the best values in Italian wine come from this sunny, dry region.
Puglia is composed of Daunia, the High Murgia, Murge, Lower Murgia, the Itria Valley, Messapia, and Salento. These territories are well-defined wine districts, strongly anchored to typical grapes that characterize the production. Producers in Puglia have focused on vinifying fine red wines with local grapes like Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Bombino Nero, which make for delicious drinking. The Salice Salentino region is named for the Salento Peninsula located on the backside of the heel of Italy’s “boot” that extends into the ocean. Salice Salentino is made from the Negroamaro grape, the name deriving from Greek and Latin referring to the grape skin’s darker color. The wine has ripe plum flavors, baked raspberries, and spice-cabinet notes like anise, allspice, and cinnamon.
White Verdeca has an uncertain origin, and the grape was named after the green color of its berries. Wines can range from quite neutral and herbal to more aromatic with mixed citrus flavors. Verdeca has been increasingly used to make monovarietal wines of distinction and historically was used in vermouth production, a popular aperitif in the twentieth-century in Italy.
The name Primitivo refers to this grape’s tendency to ripen early in the season. A dark skinned grape that produces almost black, tannic, and high-alcohol wines, the flavor profile is fruit driven, earthy, and rustic. Primitivo wines express themselves quite differently than their California counterparts, where the grape is called Zinfandel.
Negroamaro’s name is derived from the Greek and Latin words “mavros” and “niger” both meaning black, and refers to the dark color of the berries. Wines are medium bodied, with typical aromas of black fruit, tobacco and dried berries.
Malvasia Nera is a dark, thin-skinned grape from the Malvasia family, mainly grown in Puglia where there are two different kinds of Malvasia – Nera di Brindisi and Nera di Lecce. This varietal is aromatic and can be used for dry, sparkling or sweet wines.
Primitivo tastes of dark fruit like fresh figs, blueberries, and baked blackberries. There’s a distinct dried fruit-leather character to it as well. Primitivo means early ripening since these grapes accumulate a lot of sugar early in the season, and this grape is the same as California's Zinfandel. Bombino Nero makes rosés and red table wines with fresh, lively fruit. Verdeca is an important indigenous white grape of Puglia that makes aromatic and interesting wines despite its small plantings. Puglian wines work well with various foods; for people looking to explore summer’s abundance and cook or grill lots of vegetables, Puglian wine is a perfect compliment.