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Wines from Puglia (Apulia in English) are not that well known outside of Italy. For that matter they are not even that well know within Italy – except of course in Apulia where they are loved.
The problem is that, although this region has been producing wine for millenia, the quality has not always been up to the standards of northern Italian.
Don't give up on the region though. Some Apulia wineries are producing excellent wines from the traditional grape varieties. One of these Apulia wineries is Cantine Pliniana.
The Cantine Pliniana is a cooperative, like nearly all Apulia wineries.
Cooperative are not my most favorite thing but here it is far from bad. Mainly because they have most of the premier farmers of the DOC Primitivo Manduria under their banner – more than 800 members at last count.
Many of these are ancient farms where the Primitivo vines have been growing for over eighty years.
They would not have the finances for the latest technology and wine-making techniques and that is where being in a cooperative is an advantage. It allows a pooling of resources and allows tradition to meet high technology and modern techniques. The result is superb wine.
Well really there is one wine in particular you must try. It is the Messapo Primitivo di Manduria produced from the Primitivo di Manduria vines. A deep red, almost violet wine of full body and refined tannins.
This is a wine that pairs perfectly with the lamb dishes of the region and with the local hard cheeses.
It is a wine that has received increasing recognition too with special mentions and awards from VinItaly, Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits and other leading wine authorities.
Other wines from the same winery? The Primitivo Salento is good but if it comes down to a choice between the Primitivo di Manduria and the Primitivo Salento I would go with the Primitivo Salento every time.
For the rest the Salento Bianco is an interesting white wine with a honeyed nose and a crisp, refreshing taste.
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