The wine region of Puglia - the home of notable red wines

The wine region of Puglia, also known as Apulia, is located in southeastern Italy, covering over 400 kilometres along the Adriatic coast and encompassing the Salento peninsula, the heel of the Italian boot. With 106,000 hectares of vineyards and an annual wine production of seven million hectolitres, Puglia is one of the largest wine-growing areas of Italy. The vineyards are found in the Apulian lowlands as well as on the high plateaus. The hot, dry Apulian climate and the soils, some of which have a high clay content, facilitate the cultivation of full-bodied wines with a higher alcohol content. As the annual rainfall of less than 500 millimeters occurs mainly in the fall and winter months, the vineyards often require artificial irrigation during the warm seasons. Puglia is one of the world's oldest wine-growing regions, and was already cultivated by the Greeks and Phoenicians 3,000 years ago.

The wine region of Puglia includes about 30 vineyards with a DOC (Denominazione di origine [Controlled Designation of Origin]) designation corresponding to vintage wines, and another 4 vineyards with the highest quality level DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita [Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin]). The most exquisite Apulian wines come from the Salento peninsula, where the vineyards benefit from the cooler temperatures between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Red wines account for 80 percent of Puglia's wine production. The red Primitivo grape is one of the most important for Puglia. The Primitivo grape variety probably originated in Croatia, reaching Puglia from Dalmatia possibly as early as 2,000 years ago, while others believe it arrived only in the 18th century, and then crossed the ocean to California around 1925, where it is known as Zinfandel. The aroma of Primitivo reds recalls dark forest fruit and cinnamon. The relatively high alcohol content usually ranges from 13 to 15 per cent. The name of the wine indicates the early ripening of the grapes. The most widely cultivated grape variety in Puglia is the Negroamaro. It is traditionally used in blends, but also to produce single-varietal wines. The powerful Negroamaro wines feature aromas of cherry and black currants. Their name comes from their dark coloring (“negro”) and the slightly bitter (“amaro”) taste due to their high tannin content. Negroamaro wines are softer in taste when the wine has aged long enough to let the tannins mature.