Puglia (also known as Apulia) is a long, thin region located in the far southeastern corner of Italy. Due to its location, it comprises the heel in the “boot of Italy.” Puglia is perhaps as well known for its olive oil as its wines. Due to its warm, fertile growing conditions, both olives and grapes thrive in Puglia.
Puglia is divided into three distinct viticultural zones, each of which is defined by unique terroir and climate. In general, the north is much hillier while the south is relatively flat. To the north is Foggia, which is best known for Sangiovese and Montepulciano. In the central part of Puglia, you can find Bari and Taranto. And in the south, you can find Brindisi and Lecce, which are known for red wines from grape varietals such as Negroamero (literally, "black bitter"), Primitivo and Verdeca.
In general, wines from Puglia pair very nicely with the cuisine you might find in a Southern Italian trattoria. Wines made from Primitivo, for example, are often big, luscious and fruit-forward. Bombino Nero, another popular varietal, can be used to make rosé wines as well as red table wines with fresh, fruity notes. Also, Negroamero grapes are used to make Salice Salento wines along the Salento Peninsula.
Over the past two decades, there has been a move within Puglia to make higher quality wines. As a result, Puglia is starting to lose its reputation as a producer of lower-quality red blends. In 2010, for example, Puglia received its first-ever DOCG: Primitivo di Manduria Dolce.
Overall, the southern Mediterranean climate – plenty of sunshine with some sea breezes – makes for a very welcoming growing environment for Puglia’s winemakers.
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