Saturday, February 18, 2023

The Indigenous Red Grapes of Puglia

Puglia is one of the top producing wine regions in Italy in terms of productionAs we continue to build upon what we’ve covered the last couple weeks, covering most of Puglia’s wine appellations, this week we cover the red grapes of PugliaIf you’re a lover of rich, full-bodied, ripe fruit driven wines then Puglia is for you. 

The most widely planted red grapes of Puglia you may most be familiar with are Primitivo and Negroamaro, but there are also some other lesser known and rediscovered grapes like Bombino Nero, Nero di Troia and Susumaniello that you’ll find across the regionOf course, you’ll find many other red grapes to include Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Malvasia Nera and Aleatico. Let’s look at a few of them. 


Primitivo is a grape that is genetically identical to Zinfandel and is also grown in Croatia under the name Crljenak Kasteljanski. The name comes from the Latin word Primitivus, which means early ripening. The grape clusters contain thin skinned, small berries that can ripen unevenly. We talked about two areas to discover this grape last week, Primitivo di Manduria and Gioi del Colle. Primitivo di Manduria is in the Taranto province in southern Italy and the Primitivo of this area produces wines that have intense color, big, rich, high alcohol driven wines with ripe, jammy flavors. Its counterpart, Gioia del Colle, is located inland in the Bari province and creates Primitivo wines that are fresher and more elegant.

Primitivo grapes in Puglia
Sourced from the Consorzio dei Vini Gioia del Colle


Negroamaro is the other grape that competes with Primitivo for most of Puglia’s attention. It is found mostly in the Salento province and produces both red and ro wines. Negroamaro means “black bitter”, which doesn’t sound too attractive in my opinion, but these wines are far from bitter. Just the opposite! They also have an intense color that carries high acidity and firm tannins along with ripe fruits and spices. They are often blended with Malvasia Nera to help soften it. Negroamaro grapes produce good yields, do well in the heat and in fighting against fungal diseases and are resistant to droughts. 

Negroamaro grapes from Puglia
Sourced from Tenute Rubino

Bombino Nero

Bombino Nero stands for the “little black bomb” of Puglia’s lesser-known grapes, although it can be found in 1 of Puglia’s 4 DOCG appellations, Castel del Monte Bombino Nero DOCG, where it is produced exclusively as a ro. These black, thinly skinned grapes don't reach optimal ripeness, therefore the wines tend to produce wines that are fresh with high acidity and red fruit notes, different than what Puglian grapes are typically known for, fruit bombs.

Bombino Nero grapes of Puglia
Sourced by Consorzio Vini DOC Castel del Monte

Nero di Troia 

Also known as uva di troia, Nero di Troia also occupies one of Puglia's other DOCG appellations with the Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva DOCG. It's named after the town of Troia from which it is grown.  This can be a difficult grape to grow and is highly susceptible to diseases with low yields.  Its purple colored, thick-skinned grapes ripen late and produce flavors of red and black fruits with spice, high alcohol and good acidity and tannins. 

Nero di Troia grapes of Puglia
Sourced by Consorzio Vini DOC Castel del Monte

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