Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Some of the Best Wines in Puglia

I've been lucky to stumble across some great and surprising wines in the last month or two, making this round of The Best Wines in Puglia particularly explosive. First, I don't know who it was that said that Puglia cannot make fine white wine, but Valle Dell'Asso's Galatina Bianco proves that this myth is clearly outdated. Also, I've also zeroed in on the Primitivo di Manduria DOC and found two all-time favorites.

The rest is pure legs, but they a bit too long for one post. I'll include a list of Primitivo di Manduria DOC in my next post, and "Other Reds" in the post following that.

NOTE ON RATING: As you may know, my wine ratings reflect a balance of price and quality. It is a 1-10 rating system, and the wines that display the most expressive and unique characteristics while maintaining fair prices will receive the highest scores.


Consorzio Produttori di Vini Winery
Rating: 6
Available in U.S.: No
2008 “Serene” Bianco (80% Fiano, 20% Verdeca)
4.50 Euro

A fun, fruity wine that exudes summer. Unripe pineapple on the nose and equally in the mouth. Very wide in flavor, light bodied, a gentle pinch of acidity through the nose on the finish; a gentle lime pith. It pairs well with Hawaiian style BBQ, Thai salads, pad Thai, and spicy foods, reminds me of Schug Sauvignon Blanc (Non-Reserve), from Sonoma Valley, one of my favorites.

Valle Dell’Asso Winery
Rating: 9
Available in U.S.: ?
2008 Galatina Bianco (100% Chardonnay)
6.50 Euro

A very impressive wine: High-quality California Chardonnay came to mind immediately—particularly one cool-morning tasting of Williams Selyem’s Chardonnay in Napa Valley. The Galatina Bianco has a nose of pear, butter, petrol, and flowers. Tastes of toast, good bubble gum, pavement, and minerals, and is very clean, with a balanced acidity. It has a long, long finish, and is medium dry, reminiscent of Alsatian Riesling. One of the best wines I’ve drank from Puglia, and definitely the best white so far.

Cantele Winery
Rating: 7
Available in U.S.: Yes
2008 “Alticelli” (100% Fiano)
6.50 Euro

Nose of rich butter. Tastes of nice toast balanced with acidity, making it a great match for seafood. Though the wines made with Fiano in Campania are often noted for a light lemon flavor, there is no lemon in Cantele’s, though a little lime pith comes on the finish. One of the most elegant Pugliese wines made with Fiano that I’ve tasted. Medium body.


Pirro Varone Winery
Rating: 6
Available in U.S.: No
2008 “Scirocco” Rosato (100% Negroamaro)
5.00 Euro

The most striking element of this rosé is a wonderful, round orange flavor that really showcases the Mediterranean terroir. It is accompanied by a citrusy acidity that strikes across the tongue and even the back of the nose. A great gentle and dry wine, it pairs well with any picnic, fruit salad, or seafood risotto.

Cantele Winery
Rating: 5
Available in U.S.: Yes
2008 Rosato (100% Negroamaro)
5.00 Euro

A wine that is solid and reliable, it has a quiet nose of strawberry. Flavors of strawberry and citrus. Very acidic and quite dry, Cantele’s rosé will offend few palates but will unlikely surprise anyone either.

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