From Piemonte to Puglia’s ‘Radici del Sud’ Tasting of Southern Italian Wines
Author: David Berry Green
I’m fresh out of the ‘Radici del Sud’ tasting of southern Italian wines here in Savelletri di Fasona, Puglia, after three days of sampling indigenous white and red varieties. I was privileged to be part of an international panel of judges lead by Jancis Robinson MW. Like Jancis, it was my first visit to the region, whose production of wine is only matched by that of olive oil. Both continue to be sold in bulk but wine is increasingly being bottled by the growers themselves and not sold as ‘vino di taglio’ for blending purposes all over Europe.
Of the red varieties Aglianico soared high above all others qualitatively. There was simply no doubting its pedigree either as the broad brooding beast from Basilicata’s volcanic soils or from Campania’s cool calcareous and volcanic hills giving pinpoint, quivering precision that transport you back to Piemonte…
Puglia’s Primitivo, either as a broader IGT di Manduria or from the calc Gioia del Colle DOCs, performed equally as well. There was both a crunchy boysenberry modern style or raisiny traditional version; impressive consistency of quality too. Calfornia better keep an eye out for these guys!
Uva/Nero di Troia, also from Puglia, captured the charm of the sandy calc peninsula, giving us baked, laid back, sensual wines that washed over the senses. It was certainly not a masterclass in high tech winemaking, but then we’re not on the banks of the Gironde and the prices reflect that.
Negromaro as a red wine perplexed even the most sunned palate, probably on account of its broad geographical spread, while the Rosato version was consistently pink, pretty, fleshy and extremely drinkable with sea food (later) – one to look out for.
Of the whites I favoured the Puglian Bombino Bianco with its laconic salty stride and easy-going anytime drinkability. Minutolo’s Gewurztraminer-esque spice and full bodied, enveloping personality proved a fine counterpoint to the fashion-conscious crunchy white Fiano and Falanghina, the latter too flippin’ fadish for its own good.
And of course no serious southern tasting would be the same without a few red Galioppo wines from Calabria. No, they are not thick black marmalade high point scoring wines but fine pale silky textured, sunny things grounded by cleansing sapidity. Wines to look out for.
I hear the organisers (Franco Ziliani, Luciano Pignatura and Nicola Campanile) are planning to cast the net wider next year, to include Sicily perhaps. This is an event to be followed. I hope I’m asked back.