The SOMM Journal

August / September 2018

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Page 20 of 124

20 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 { the ransom report } The Ransom Report is a column by The SOMM Journal's East Coast Editor David Ransom. In each issue, David will discuss what's currently on his mind and in his glass gathered from conversations and experiences in the world of wine, spirits, and hospitality. { the ransom report } WHEN WAXING POETIC about Italy's wines, how often does one include the wines of the Puglia region in Italy's southeast corner? Likely not very often, for until recently Puglia (sometimes called Apulia) had been regarded as an area focused on quantity over quality, as it's filled with co-ops making wine to fill other brands' bottles. As for my own image of Puglia, the region is blessed with a very good climate for grape production, but this hasn't always translated to good wine. Ripeness and high alcohol content represent some of the hurdles to acceptance, especially regarding Primitivo, the region's signature red grape. A recent trip to Italy's heel, however, showed me times have changed in Puglia, where the focus is now clearly skewed toward quality. Virtually all of its producers, both independent and coopera - tive, are working to increase awareness of the region as they dedicate resources to raising the image of its most well-known yet underesti- mated wines. "We've made a concerted effort over the last 20 years to raise the quality of our wines," says Mauro di Maggio, Managing Direc- tor of Cantine San Marzano in Manduria (home to some of Puglia's most coveted Primitivo vines). "We are also helping secure the future for our vines by doing biodiversity research to help address climate change," adds Claudio Quarta, who owns three wineries in Manduria and Salento. One of the areas where Puglia has actually led the way is in rosé production. The region kickstarted the category in Italy during the 1990s, and today many producers make rosé from a variety of native grapes. Probably most enticing for me is a style of rosé made from Negroamaro that's complex and often ageworthy while showing notes of minerality on par with white wine, making it well-suited to pairing with food. I found Negroamaro particularly interesting, as this grape tends to ripen less than most others even in Puglia's hot climate. This makes it perhaps the ideal grape to thrive there and, as a result, producers utilize Negroamaro for a variety of wines—including, of course, red and rosé (though a few are making white and sparkling wines from the grape, as well). So next time you seek to pull your wine program out of a rut, take a look at the wines of Puglia. They're still affordable and, in my opinion, well worth a look. A Heel No Longer THE WINES OF SOUTHERN ITALY'S PUGLIA REGION PREP TO TAKE THE WORLD STAGE story and photos by David Ransom Stefano Garofano of Severino Garofano makes some of Puglia's most interesting rosé from Negroamaro grapes. Claudio and Alessandra Quarta of Claudio Quarta Vignaiolo.

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