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Puglia (a.k.a. Apulia) is located in southeast Italy, or as many describe it, the “heel” of the boot. Flanked by the Adriatic and Ionian seas, it’s a spectacularly fertile peninsula, known for growing olives, figs, almonds, wheat and of course, wine grapes. Its Meditterranean climate is hot, with long sunny days cooled off by ocean breezes. The region has been inhabited for many centuries, with wines factoring in throughout. The Greeks, Romans, Goths, Lombards, Byzantines, Turks and Venetians all occupied the province at various stages from several centuries B.C. up until 1861, when it was officially recognized as part of Italy.
Next to wine, olive oil is its biggest industry, accounting for half of Italy’s production. Red wine has come from Puglia in profuse quantities, and garnered the region a reputation for being a terrific source of “plonk” for a long time. Producers enjoyed success for this mass production, and happily churned out oceans of wine used for Vermouth and bulk blending purposes. But by the end of the 20th century, the wine drinking populous had become more interested in quality over quantity, the DOC laws put more restrictions on yield allowances and producers shifted to more focused wines.
Puglia has dozens of DOCs and is divided regionally from north to south into Foggia, Bari, Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce. The signature indigenous grapes of the region are the red Negroamaro and Primitivo (found to be genetically the same as California’s Zinfandel), and the white, though less prolific, Verdeca. Primitivo’s main DOCs are Manduria, Gioia del Colle and Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale, which is the sweet dessert wine that is the only DOCG pride of the region. Plantings of Negroamaro are far more widespread and account for nine DOCs including Salice Salentino and Brindisi.
Uva di Troia, a low yield red grape with gorgeous honeysuckle perfumed aromas is found in several DOCs including Barletta, Cerignola, Canosa and Castel del Monte. Ottavianello is the Italian name for Cinsault, which is used for the production of rosé. Greco Bianco, Impigno and Moscato round out the list of popular whites, the latter used for the production of sweet Moscato di Trani DOC. ~Amanda Schuster
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