The region of Puglia has become one of Italy's leading producers of rosé wine, offering an exceptional and sophisticated selection that surpasses the quality of other rosé wine-producing countries.
Puglia, Italy – In Italy’s southeastern peninsular region, embraced by the Mediterranean breeze of the Adriatic and Ionian seas, is Puglia. Recognized as one of Italy’s culturally richest territories, Puglia has long enjoyed a history of distinction due to its simple but equally rich gastronomy, historic architecture, and long-standing influence in the production of Italian wines. Most recently, the region has become one of Italy’s leading producers of rosé wine, offering an exceptional and sophisticated selection that surpasses the quality of other rosé wine-producing countries.
Known as the oldest type of wine, rosé wine has seen a resurgence in popularity in the past five years. In the United States alone, the second-largest consumer of rosé wine after France, the consumption of rosé has grown by approximately 50% in the last four years. Rosé has quickly gone from being considered a cheap, second-grade, mass-produced wine option for sipping during a weekend brunch to the selection of choice by wine experts and aficionados, and a discerning millennial generation responsible for the boost in wine sales and consumption around the world. Puglia’s quality rosé wines are still not widely distributed in the United States. This has further sparked the curiosity of this new generation of wine enthusiasts and rosé lovers who pay closer attention to the production of what they are consuming and, in turn, to the processes and ancient traditions used in winemaking. Traditions that are profoundly and proudly still honored today by winemakers of Puglia.
The Region of Puglia and Its Grapes
Puglia’s geography is quite diverse. It boasts the longest coastline in mainland Italy but also areas of higher elevation. It is one of the country’s warmest and dryest regions, basking in the hot and sunny Mediterranean weather. Its fertile and rich soils are mainly comprised of calcareous limestone. The distinct topography of Puglia has made the art and science of viniculture a prominent aspect of life in the region for generations. With over 20 different types of grapes grown in this region (double the amount than in Provance, France), the possibilities are simply endless.
Rosé wines are made from red grapes, with the hue in color being determined by several aspects of the winemaking process, such as maceration. The grapes of Puglia used in rosé wines produce wines that are rich in aroma, boasting delicate but intense colors and the perfect amount of acidity. Negroamaro grapes, for example, have been associated with this region for over 1500 years. Known as The King of the Area, Negroamaro grapes are deep in color, boasting dark berry fruit flavors and medium-full tannins, translating to complex, fine wines. Primitivo grapes are also associated with this region. These dark-skinned grapes produce deeply colored wines, both high in tannins and alcohol and robust in flavor.
From the North to the South: Exploring Puglia
Daunia & Capitanata
This region of Puglia is mainly occupied by the plain of the Tavoliere. Farming and agriculture in the area date back 7000 years. The highly cultivated area include crops of tomato, wheat, beet, olives, and grapes—the sea borders this region to the East with the Foresta Umbra woods to the North. Rosé wines from this area are from Nero di Troia and Bombino Nero grapes, producing wines that are delicate and smooth on the palate, with the right level of acidity.
The Murgia Area & Bari Coast
The hinterland of Bari is home to farms specializing in the production and distribution of olive oil and almond. Wines from this region are characterized by a pale pink color with a copper tinge and hints of red fruit. Bombino Nero grapes are the grapes of choice. In the North of Bari, rosé wine is produced from grapes meticulously harvested in the evening hours. This is done to preserve the flavors of the grapes. Here, Uva di Troia is the grape of choice, resulting in complex wines with great body and structure and a light ruby color that turns to light orange after aging.
The Itria Valley is recognized worldwide by its famous Trulli houses. Negroamaro and Primitivo grapes are widely found in the Taranto area. This area’s reddish soil allows for producing a unique rosé wine that boasts an intense cherry color and the perfect balance between flavors and acidity.
Known as the Negroamaro Area, it is clear why Negroamaro is the grape of choice for this area’s wineries. Here, the grape is cultivated in hundreds of vineyards! In the southern part of Pulia, the wine produced is a light purple color, from varieties with very juicy pulps. In the past, these juicy pulps were known as “Lacrimas” (Tears), as the more mature grapes tended to split and to “cry” profusely. On the other hand, rosé wines in the area of Taranto are produced from Primitivo di Manduria, which add freshness and tannins. Other grapes widely used in this area include Montepulciano, Malvasia, and Susumaniello.
Infranto by Donna Viola
Without hesitation, we can say that Infranto, by Donna Viola, has become one of our favorite rosé wines. There is meticulous attention to detail in the production of this wine. You can recognize this from the design of its label to its aromas and delicate flavor.
Donna Viola is a subsidiary of Petroni Vini, a historical winery producing wines since 1865. Using traditional winemaking methods, Infranto is the perfect example of why rosé wines from Puglia stand above all others. “Our wines are produced using only the native grapes of Puglia,” told us Maria Viola Petroni, fifth-generation owner of Donna Viola. “We pay very close attention to the use of historic winemaking techniques, using one hundred percent of a specific variety of grape in our wines. The soils of our lands are special and unique, and I want to continue to honor this.”
Infranto is a well-structured, balanced, and exquisitely elegant wine. It is produced from Nero di Troia grapes. A good level of tannins characterizes Nero di Troia grapes and an ideal predisposition for wine aging in bottles. Infranto is produced using a soft press method, leading to a higher quality product. “For me, it is important to know and understand every single part of the winemaking process, down to every single detail,” Maria told us. “Not only does this allow me to develop a wine that I know our consumers will enjoy, but also to better represent Puglia in the eyes of the world.”
To the eye, Infranto highlights a delicate pomelo pink color. It boasts an excellent intensity to the nose, with floral and fruity aromas of peach blossom, grapefruit, peach, and apricot. On the palate, this wine stands out for its compelling freshness and softness while revealing its luscious and outstanding flavors. This wine pairs perfectly with an aperitif, seafood, and salads.
When discussing Donna Viola as a company, Maria is part of a generation of female winemakers starting to dominate Italy’s wine industry. “As the female face of this brand, I can tell you that this industry is not only for males. It is an industry that can benefit extensively from women’s attention to detail. We bring a unique level of passion and insight for tradition and innovation to the winemaking process.”
Maria is the designer behind the branding for Donna Viola. The D and V initials found in the logo form an open triangle. “The triangle represents my vision for the brand. Each angle represents one aspect of my goals for Donna Viola: innovation, bravery, and passion.” Maria is also the designer of the label for Infranto. Translating to “broken” in English, Infranto’s embossed label is reminiscent of her vineyards’ broken soil during the dry winters. “Infranto was born during the Covid-19 lockdown. Its label is a reminder that new plants will eventually grow from the dry, broken soil once the cold winter is over. It is a symbol of hope.”
To those visiting Puglia, Donna Viola offers two forms of wine tasting held on the winery’s grounds. Maria catalogs these as “formal” and “informal” wine tasting events. For the informal wine tasting, guests enjoy a more organic experience, drinking wine sourced straight from the steel tanks while getting a behind-the-scenes look into the production of wine. The formal wine tasting follows the more traditional guidelines of being served with different wines and aperitifs at a table. However, for Maria, her favorite experience offered at Donna Viola’s vineyards is the Sunset Experience. Donna Viola rests on a hill that faces the sunset, and this tasting activity takes advantage of this opportunity to offer guests a more intimate experience.
Puro by Romaldo Greco
The Azienda Agricola Romaldo Greco is a winery located in the small town of Secli, in Salento. First established in 1973 by Romaldo Greco, the winery continues to be a family business. Romaldo was joined by his son Antongiulio and daughter Gloria in the 2000s, who introduced new varieties of grapes, and more innovative grape cultivation methods. The main types of grapes grown at the winery are Negroamaro and Primitivo, amongst other varieties. “Our winery is a family business, composed of a small team,” Gloria told us as we enjoyed a sip of their wine Puro. “However, we are determined to the production of high-quality wines. It is very important to us.
Puro by Romaldo Greco is made 100% from Malvasia Nera grapes, with a fermentation period of 15 days, and aged for four months in steel barrels. It is a compelling wine, elegantly aromatic to the nose with hints of red fruits, such as cherries, and boasting a gorgeous copper color. “Puro is a new line of wines for us,” said Gloria. “We have only produced a small batch, aimed to the new generation of wine enthusiasts around the world.” The wine is quite pleasant to the palate. It is fresh and savory, with a slightly acidic finish, which pairs great with seafood, white meat, and mozzarella cheese. “When you drink our wines, you can taste the flavors offered by Puglia’s soil. Our goal is that when you drink our wines, and you close your eyes, you can experience the aromas of the mediterranean sea,” Gloria concluded.
Pezza Galitta by Villa Schinosa
Located in Trani, Villa Schinosa is a historic winery owned by a family with a Neapolitan aristocratic lineage. It produces wines based on ancient winemaking traditions passed down through generations. Extending over 200 hectares, it is one of the largest wineries in Puglia, cultivating a large variety of native and international grapes.
Pezza Galitta by Villa Schinosa is produced from Pinot Nero and Aglianico grapes harvested in the first half of September. Maceration occurs for approximately 12 hours, and it is fermented in stainless steel barrels for two months, with bottle aging also lasting about two months. The results are a wine that features a bright pink color with red highlights. Pezza Galitta boasts an intense aroma of wild berries, strawberries, blueberries, and Granada. It is also refreshingly fruity to the palate, with light acidity, pairing well with an aperitif, seafood, and light cheeses such as burrata, Puglia’s traditional cheese.
Cattedrale by Cantine D'Alessandro
Cattedrale is a rosé wine produced from one of Italy’s most famous varieties of grapes, Sangiovese. The name originates from the Latin ‘sanguis Jovis,’ literally translating to “the blood of Jupiter.” The D’Alessandro family has an extensive history in the wine industry, continuously operating their business since the beginning of the 1900s. The company is currently managed by the family’s fourth generation, siblings Angela, Giovanni, and Arianna D’Alessandro. Their main vineyard is located in the small town of Conversano, in the south of Bari, covering 55 hectares of land, which strictly grows regional grapes. “An important thing for us is to ensure that our vineyards continue to be bound to the indigenous traditions and grapes of the region where they are located, including Uva di Troia, Negroamaro, Sangiovese, Primitivo, and Malvasia,” Angela told us.
To the eye, Cattedrale highlights a vibrant, deep pink color. To the nose, it is highly aromatic, exuding a luxurious floral aroma and fruity notes. It is a fresh and well-balanced wine and the only rosé by Cantine D’Alessandro. It is a wine that is easy to drink and pairs perfectly with simple dishes such as fish, chicken salads, or aperitifs. “We have produced Cattedrale with a younger generation in mind. We chose Sangiovese grapes for this wine as it is not only one of our native grapes, but also because of how perfect they are in rosé wine production,” said Giovanni during our conversation from Cantine D’Alessandro Vineyard, in Puglia. After ten days of fermentation, the wine is aged for four months in stainless steel barrels and then in the bottle.
When discussing the wine’s name and the brand’s connection to Puglia, the D’Alessandro’s have tapped into the region’s architectural history. The wine’s label features art inspired by rose windows (“rosone” in Italian) which are traditionally found in cathedrals throughout Puglia. “We chose the colors pink and yellow for the art to showcase the vibrant, young spirit that also inspired the production of this wine,” said Giovanni. “With this label, we aim to build a bridge between our history and the younger generation.”
Cantine D’Alessandro offers wine tours for those visiting the region of Puglia. “When visiting our vineyards, guests can enjoy an inside look at the production of our wines and have the opportunity to try different tasting experiences,” Angela concluded.
For more about Puglia and all this enchanting region of Italy has to offer, see the video below and visit Puglia in Rosé.
“Brindiamo! A Taste of Puglia Region” with Ornella Fado.
Videographer: Marco Vitale/ Joseph Cozza
Editor: Wesley Wingo/ David Klein
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