Negroamaro is a red wine grape varietal grown almost exclusively in Puglia - southern Italy and particularly on the peninsula in the area Salento. Which includes the provinces of Lecce, Brindisi, and small plots in the province of Taranto.
The grape varietal can produce deeply coloured wines, which tend to be very rustic in character, combining dark fruit aromas with earthy characters on the palate. The grape produces dynamic red wines when blended with the highly aromatic Malvasia Nera, producing ‘Salice Salentino’. In Italian ‘amaro’ translates to ‘bitter’, the name Negroamaro is thought to derive from two local words - ‘negro’ from Latin meaning ‘black’. The most probable explanation, is that the name Negroamaro.
Derives from the fusion of a Greek word ‘mavros’ and the Latin word ‘negro’, both meaning ‘black’. Referring to the colour of the grapes, so Negroamaro actually means ‘black-black’. What is certain about Negroamaro - it is one of Italy’s most ancient vines, that has an ancestral bond with Puglia, and as the symbol of Salento is more than just a native vine.
Though it should be stated that the wines are rarely if ever even slightly bitter - as the tannins are usually light or soft in style. This ancient wine, and grape are thought to have been brought to Puglia by Illyrian colonists before the Greeks arrived in the 7th century BC. But after the fall of the Roman Empire winemaking declined in the region and was only kept alive in the monasteries - Benedictine on Murgia and Greek Orthodox in Salento.
Negroamaro has become increasingly popular recently as people look for full, fruit filled red wines without the big price, or requiring time to develop. Experts are still unsure of it exact orgins and arrival in the region, whatever its origins, Negroamaro is a very dark wine which for years has been used as a blending wine to add colour to wines in Northern Italy. Though in the last decade or so Negroamaro has emerged on its own - due to the passion of a handful of local winemakers focusing on producing high quality single varietal wines.
Vineyards typically surrounding the ‘trulli’, a small cottage or farmhouses with a cone-shaped roof, Negroamaro competes with Primitivo for the title of ‘King of Puglia’. The Salice Salentino DOC, in the centre of the Salento peninsula is home to many Negroamaro producers. At present Negroamaro is grown on approximately 12,000 hectares of vineyards in Puglia. The grape is well suited to Puglia's soils which are mainly calcareous clay, its hot summers and very low rainfall and does not easily lose its acidity. Negroamaro has a high amount of total polyphenols, like resveratrol, resulting the grapes anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Negroamaro is a grape varietal which guarantees regular but not abundant crops, and is most adaptable to the traditional ‘alberello’ (little-tree method) training. The grape cluster is short with a truncated-conical shape and the berries can be tightly packed, though some clones (which there are several) can be loose.
Although today 100% Negroamaro varietal wines are produced, Negroamaro is more commonly used as the dominant component of a blend including such varietals as Malvasia Nera, Sussumaniello, Sangiovese and Montepulciano. Typically producing red wines, though sometimes rosato, and are usually still; though both red and rosato versions may be made in the ‘frizzante’ style.