Apulia, which takes its name from the Samnite tribe of the Apuli, is situated at the southeast extremity of the Italian peninsula and is bounded by Basilicata, Campania and Molise and by the Ionian and Adriatic seas. Also under control of the region are the Tremiti Islands in the Adriatic.
As in other southern regions, incontrovertible evidence indicates that Apulia was occupied by prehistoric peoples. It was also a leading target of Hellenic settlers and later was subjected to Roman rule.
The region consists primarily of a vast flatland, although there are a few low hills that slope gently down to the sea. Apulia possesses few rivers of any importance. The sole exception is in the vast plains to the south of the Gargano promontory. That district is known as the Tavoliere (table land) or Daunia, from the name of the daughter of Daunus Lycaonius of Arcadia, who, leaving the heat of the Peloponnisus, eventually arrived in Apulia.
The environment of Apulia is highly conducive to the cultivation of the vine. The wines of the region were always to be found on the tables of the ancient Romans. Little by little, from ancient to modern times, the production of wine grapes steadily expanded in Apulia and winemaking assumed a vital place in the regional economy.
The outbreak of the phylloxera epidemic toward the end of the 19th century resulted in the virtual complete destruction of the vineyards. In replanting them, with the use of American rootstocks, emphasis was placed on varietals such as Primitivo and Negro Amaro. Production was focused on wines with high alcohol levels that were rich in extracts and low in acidity, characteristics principally suited to blending with other weaker wines.
The objective now is to offer wine on the market as a bottled beverage with its own specific image. The concept has oriented production towards quality and the adoption of new vinification techniques and plantings.
Growers are introducing varietals from other regions to complement traditional species. Eighty-two percent of the grapes grown here are red. Among the most widely cultivated are Primitivo, Negro Amaro, Uva di Troia, Bombino Nero, Malvasia Nera, Sangiovese, Barbera and Aleatico. Important whites include Verdeca, Bianco d’Alessano, Bombino Bianco, Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca.
Most highly regarded of Apulia’s DOC wines are the red, Salice Salentino, Castel del Monte, Primitivo and San Severo; and the white, Locorotondo, Martina and Castel del Monte Bianco.
THE DOCGs of PUGLIA
PRIMITIVO MANDURIA ROSSO DOLCE
The wine is intense ruby with a nose of berries and red fruits. It is produced with 100% Primitivo grown in the delimited zone. The wine must age until at least June 1st of the year following harvest.
CASTEL DEL MONTE NERO di TROIA RISERVA
This wine is born with a minimum of 90% Nero di Troia with a maximum of other local non-aromatic red grapes. The wine is aged for at least two years, one in wood. The aging begins November 1st following the harvest.
CASTEL DEL MONTE BOMBINO NERO
This red is produced with 90% Bombino Nero and a maximum of 10% other local non-aromatic grapes. It is produced as a rose`.
CASTEL DEL MONTE ROSSO RISERVA
This red is born with a minimum of 65% Nero di Troia and the balance of other local non-aromatic grapes. The wine must age for a minimum of 24 months, at least 12 in wood, beginning November 1st of the year following the harvest.
TAVOLIERE DELLE PUGLIE
Tavoliere delle Puglie may be produced as a Rosato, Rosso, Rosso Riserva or Nero di Troia or Nero di Troia Riserva. The Rosato, Rosso and Rosso Riserva must contain a minimum of 65% Nero di Troia with the addition of a maximum of 35% other local non-aromatic varietals. The Nero di Troia and Nero di Troia Riserva must contain at least 90% of that grape with the addition of no more than 10% other local non-aromatic reds. Both riservas must age a minimum of two years, at least eight months of which must be in wood. The aging begins November 1st following the harvest.