Puglia is a wine region in Southern Italy bordering the Adriatic Sea in the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, and the Strait of Òtranto and Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its most southern portion is known as Salento peninsula - with the regions main city being Bari.
Puglia is the country’s second biggest wine-producing region after Veneto. Puglia has 85,125 hectares of vineyard, producing more than 6 million hectolitres of wine each year. This is approx 15% of the total Italian production. In the past decade or two Puglia’s vineyard area has decreased approximately 20% from 103,000ha in 2006 to its present size.
In Puglia there are now 28 DOC’s and in 2011 the creation of 4 DOCG’s - Castel del Monte Bombino Nero, Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva, Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva, and Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale.
They all focus on two grapes that the region does very well - Nero di Troia and Primitivo - plus the lesser known Bombino Nero - making up 15% of the region’s total production. Also the production of IGT wines has nearly doubled to 30% of production in the same time frame. Surprisingly for such a warm, dry, Mediterranean region, more than 40% of production is now made up by white wines - as the tradition of the region was red wines. The region has a lot of Fiano, Vermentino, Malvasia Bianca, and Bombino Bianco (thought to be related to Trebbiano). Fiano already has a growing, if still niche, reputation, especially in export markets. Though in Puglia it is called Fiano Minutolo or sometimes just Minutolo.
Another trend is the production of some single vineyard wines, where Puglia historically was known for producing bulk wine for blending, focused on quantity rather than quality. For a long time much of the wine made was transported north to Turin were it was used to make Vermouth, or to France where it was used to give structure to French wines when the local harvest was either poor or in short supply.
Though plantings of international varieties, noteably Chardonnay for IGT wines, have increased, Puglia has a treasure trove of indigenous grapes that many want to preserve and celebrate. Negroamaro is king here, making robust reds and fragrant rosés especially in the south, whilst Primitivo is probably the most recognised grape - grown all over the region and produces different results when grown in the centre and north, at higher altitudes, up to 400 metres in the Itria valley, compared to the rich, heady, and sometimes slightly sweet styles made in nearer sea level in the Salento peninsula. Nero di Troia is the third of the big Puglian red wine varieties - grown in the north of Puglia, is producing some really interesting wines, after viticultural research identified ways to get better results from the fruit, with pockets of Aglianico as well as Montepulciano and Malvasia Nero.