Puglia, Italy's underrated wine region

Row of white houses with conical tiled rooves
Traditional 'Trulli' houses in Puglia

Picture a landscape filled with ancient olive trees and towns of white buildings covering coastal hills, and imagine the enticing smells of the salty sea air, delicious local Orecchiette (little ears) pasta in a rich tomato sauce, with freshly baked focaccia and molten mozzarella. This paradise is the region of Puglia in the South of Italy, where even the Italians in the north choose to relocate to for the summer.  

Last summer I drove from the UK all the way down to Italy’s heel, the region of Puglia. Although this was not my first time, it was a trip of discovery as I was going with my 'wine glasses' on, ready to take a proper look at what the region had to offer. Now back in old Blighty and still feeling the buzz from the sunny hills, excited about what I discovered from this beautifully rustic region in Italy.

Why we need to pay more attention to Puglia…

For the most part, the British perspective of wines from Puglia has been based solely on the mass-produced, Primitivo which has been simply fruity and - although pivotal in elevating the region’s export in volume - did little to promote the region for quality. However, the region has so much more to offer! Recent investment in the region has driven a vast improvement in quality with winemakers making the most of cooling influences with a range of soils and altitude, to create elegant and expressive wines.

Puglia forms the ‘heel’ of Italy, which means it is unusually surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on three sides, dividing the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. The region is hot and dry for the most part, allowing healthy ripening of grapes for ripe styles with full body and high alcohol, which allows for the successful production of Primitivo. However, if you look closer, there are particular areas in the region which are well-known locally for offering different expressions and quality of local varieties, including Primitivo, Negroamaro, Susumaniello, Nero di Troia, Verdeca and Malvasia Bianca.

Wine styles of the region

Quality can be found by those with old vines, producing less fruit but more concentrated styles. Areas prized for Primitivo include Manduria and Gioia del Colle (joy of the hills), and for Negroamaro you want to source from Salice Salentino. A wonderful range of reds to try with those made in a fresher style aimed to fully express the variety and terroir to the more rich and fuller styles that have spent time in concrete or oak for supple texture and complexity. Whites are concentrated and fresh with some showing salinity character due to sea breezes and soils that were previously under the sea. Varieties have been used for a range of styles such as Minuotolo for Classic Method sparkling, oaked rich white, Col Fondo and Orange. Perfect for the summer, you can enjoy expressive and vibrant rosés with lovely intense notes of fresh strawberry and raspberry, balanced with elegant acidity, making a lovely refreshment on hot sunny days.

Why you should visit

So if you are wondering where you should take your next adventure then add Puglia to your list! It is a must-see region if you want to experience the historic landscape with Trulli houses and olive trees - nature’s sculptures dating back thousands of years. You could also visit Matera with its complex cave dwellings known as Sassi, but also most recently where James Bond ‘No Time To Die’ was filmed. If history and architecture isn’t your bag, go just for the unbelievably delicious food that is best enjoyed with the wonderful wines the region has produced.  

However, if you don’t plan to travel to Puglia anytime soon, the great news is you can enjoy these wines without the expense of a plane ticket, so if you see a wine from Puglia, particularly from one of the named sub regions, give it a go and discover for yourself.

New wines

We are pleased to be adding family-run, organic producer, Tenuta Viglione who sit on the border of Basilicata and Puglioa, close to Gioia del Colle and historical town of Matera, to our range with their Maioliche collection which you can recognise by their tile-inspired labels by the same Italian pottery style they're named after, offering the “perfect balance between tradition and modernity”.

Blog by Molly Newport