Puglia’s Negroamaro – to be discovered

I traveled to Puglia, Italy early October 2019 to attend a four-day educational tour.  The Educational Tour Guagnano (Salento – Puglia – Italy) “Negroamaro Stories” was carried out with the support of the Comune di Guagnano, the Municipality of Trepuzzi, the Gal Terrad’Arneo, the Municipality of Porto Cesareo, of the National Association of AIS of Lecce, and  Solento Wine Shop.

Puglia is geographically located in the south-eastern tip of Italy, covering 7,469 sqm. It is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on the east, by the Ionian Sea on the southeast and the Gulf of Taranto in the south. Its climate is Mediterranean, with hot summer temperatures only partially mitigated with sea breezes.

On my first day I attended the Museo del Negroamaro for a press conference, which kicked off the 2019 “Stories of Negroamaro” tour. In attendance were partner organizations, participating wineries, local politicians, and artist Arianna Greco.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conference speeches and presentations were given (in Italian) by:

Antonio Rizzo – Ass. cultura e al marketing territoriale del Comune di Guagnano;

Claudio Maria Sorrento – Sindaco del Comune di Guagnano;

Chiara Tondo – Ass. all’Agricoltura del Comune di Guagnano;

Cosimo Durante – Presidente Gal Terra d’Arneo;

Viviana D’Amico – Presidente del Comitato Tecnico Organizzativo del Premio Terre del Negroamaro; and

Titolari e Rappresentanti – Aziende Vinicole Guagnano.

The conference introduced us to the Guagnano and Terra d’Arneo area and presented grape harvest data for 2018-2019.

After the presentations and speeches, I met and mingled with Italian wine journalists, winegrowers and members of the local and regional associations, while tasting the delicious local cuisine.

After lunch, I participated in a tour of the Museo del Negroamaro.  I found out that the Museum was formerly a millstone from the 1800s. It now houses antiques and antiquities from yesteryear, such as traditional presses, barrels, fermenters, weighs, pressure switches, and other tools and equipment previously used in the processing of grapes and winemaking. The Museum also houses the Negroamaro Study Center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the next four days, I will be visiting eight wineries or Cantinas in Puglia and tasting their DOC and IGT wines, with a focus on the indigenous varieties Primitivo and Negroamaro.  The participating wineries include: Cantele Cantele; Cantina Sociale Enotria; Vini Leuci; Feudi di Guagnano; Cantine Cosimo Taurino; Cantina Moros di Claudio Quarta; Taurino Francesco; and Tenuta Marano.

The first winery visit was Cosimo Taurino

The Taurino family have been growing grapes and making wines in Puglia for seven generations. This multi-award-winning estate owns 80 hectares of cultivated vineyards exclusively with Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes, both indigenous to Salento.  The Taurino’s family respect for terroir and for native grapes is inspiring, and their impact on the vinous history of Puglia is unprecedented.

 

 

Two wines that really stood out for me were:

Cosimo Taurino, Notarpanaro Salento  2010

100% Negroamaro

Tasting Notes:  This wine offers complex aromas of cherries and raspberry, with some notes of wood and spice, which all come through on the palate;  this medium-bodied wine has fleshy tannins and a long finish.

Cosimo Taurino, Patriglione 2013

100% Negroamaro

Tasting Notes:  This wine has notes of red berries, leather, tobacco, and some traces of pepper. It’s a rich and full-bodied wine with a good balance.

Unfortunately, I could not complete the rest of the tour due to a family emergency.

 What I learned in Salento….

About  Negroamaro

Negroamaro is a deep, black-colored grape with taste characteristics of black currant, cherry, blackberry and cloves with some cinnamon undertones.  It is almost exclusive to the Salento region (Brindisi and Lecce) and is harvested in late September.

Negroamaro is used in 13 regional Dop labels (out of 28 in Puglia) and is produced in the provinces of: Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto: Alezio, Brindisi, Copertino, Galatina, Leverano, Lizzano, Matino, Nardò, Negroamaro in Terra d’Otranto, Salice Salentino, Squinzano, and Terra d’Otranto.

Negroamaro has a high alcohol content with some floral and fruity aromas; this makes it an ideal blending wine because the aroma does not distract from other grape varieties.

The Soil

It is worth mentioning that one of the secrets to the fabulous tasting Pugliese wine is the soil.  It’s dense red clay, high in iron-oxide – this provides a sweet, structured, full-bodied wine.

Over the last few years, the wines of Salento have been gaining tremendous success. The next-generation winemakers have both improved the taste and the image of the wines in this emerging wine region.

A special thank you to the municipal administrations, for organizing this wonderful trip.  I’m looking forward to going back to Puglia in the near future and learning more about this up-and-coming wine region.

Liz Palmer

 

2020 Calendar Dates for Wine and Spirits Days

To help you plan for 2020, I created a list that you can bookmark. The list, which isn’t exhaustive, is comprised of important national or global wine and spirit days (dates may be subject to change). In any event, this is a great starting point to assist you in planning fun and engaging posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social platforms. Let me know if I missed any.

January

January 17, 2020  – National Hot Buttered Rum Day (USA)

February

February 18, 2020 – Global Drink Wine Day

February 22, 2020 – National Margarita Day(USA)

February 29, 2020 – Open That Bottle Night

March

March 3, 2020 – Mulled Wine Day

March 3, 2020 – Irish Whiskey Day

March 3, 2020 – National Moscow Mule Day (USA)

March 5, 2020 – Absinthe Day

April

April 17, 2020 – Malbec World Day

May

May 1 – 31, 2020  – Oregon Wine Month

May 1, 2020 – International Sauvignon Blanc Day

May 9, 2020 – World Moscato Day

May 16, 2020  – World Whisky Day

May 21, 2020 – International Chardonnay Day

May 25, 2020 – National Wine Day (USA)

May 30, 2020 – National Mint Julep Day (USA)

June

June 2020  – Negroni Week (UK TBD)

June 4, 2020  – Cognac Day

June 13, 2020 – World Gin Day

June 19, 2020  – National Martini Day

June 21, 2020 – Lambrusco Day

June 26, 2020 – International Rosé Day

June 2020  – National Prosecco Week (USA TBD)

July

July 2, 2020  – National Anisette Day (USA)

July 10, 2020 – National Piña Colada Day (USA)

July 11, 2020 – National Mojito Day (USA)

July 19, 2020 – National Daiquiri Day (USA)

July 24, 2020 – National Tequila Day (USA)

July 27, 2020 – National Scotch Day (USA)

August

August 1-5, 2020 – International Albariño Days

August 4, 2020 – National White Wine Day (USA)

August 13, 2020  – National Prosecco Day 9USA)

August 18, 2020 – International Pinot Noir Day

August 28, 2020  – National Red Wine Day (USA)

September

September 3, 2020 – International Cabernet Sauvignon Day

September 18, 2020 – International Grenache Day

October

October 4, 2020  – National Vodka Day (USA)

October 10, 2020 – International Pinotage Day

October 16, 2020 – Global Champagne Day

November

November 1, 2020 – International Xinomavro Day

November 7, 2020 – International Merlot Day

November 9, 2020 – International Tempranillo Day

November 18, 2020 – National Zinfandel Day

November 19, 2020 – Beaujolais Nouveau Day

November 24, 2020 – Carménère Day

December

December 4, 2020 – Cabernet Franc Day

December 20, 2020 – Sangria Day

Liz Palmer

Washington to gain six new AVAs in 2020

Washington will be gaining six additional AVAs to its current fourteen, as part of the state’s fast-growing wine industry.

Doug Marshall, Senior Marketing Manager at Washington State Wine Commission is hopeful that the new AVAs will become a reality over the next six to 12 months. The region reached 1,000 wineries a few months ago, having grown from 200 in 2003.

“The growth has been pretty substantial, and we believe a lot of that growth comes down to quality,” Marshall told Harpers.  As an emerging region with only 20 to 30 years of winemaking experience, he added, Washington is now beginning to get into its stride, with a better understanding of its potential sub-regions, climate, and terroir.”

The new proposed AVAs include: The Burn, White Bluffs, Candy Mountain, Goose Gap, and Royal Slope.

“We know more about the region now, so we are understanding where boundaries are, recognizing regions… the new AVAs, and one of reasons we are seeing so many with six in the works, is that we are really honing our region in” states Marshall, and

“As people become more willing to explore and explore something they don’t know, [with] any wine region that is primarily premium, that gives us a leg up because that is our world,” he said by way of explaining the ongoing expansion of Washington’s winemaking scene.”

He further adds that “as a young region with just “20 to 30 years of winemaking tradition, Washington and its producers, including an influx of younger, second-generation winemakers, is now beginning to get more fully into its stride – understanding its potential sub-regions, soils, and climates.”

Exploring the Diversity of the Rheinhessen Wine Region [Part 3 of 3] — VDP “Große Lage” Seminar and Tasting

A special trade seminar was held the following morning with a specific focus on VDP “Große Lange.” The seminar was held in the beautiful Kurhaus Wiesbaden, which is unmistakable Wiesbaden’s landmark. This magnificent neoclassical building is the city’s convention center.

VDP stands for Verband Deutscher Prädikatsweingüter (or the Association of German Prädikat Wine Estates). It was founded as a regional association in the Rheingau over a hundred years ago with the goal of recognizing and encouraging quality producers of dry wines.

The VDP has selected and classified the best German vineyard sites coming from all 13 of the country’s wine-producing regions. In 2019, there are 200 members. The logo for VDP is an eagle with grapes on his chest. If you see this logo on a bottleneck, you know that it comes from one of the best vineyards in Germany and is a trustworthy guarantee for the quality within. VDP has four classifications:

VDP Gutswein –  these are often the first wines of a wine year to be bottled and sold. They must come from estate-grown grapes and the producers are given freedom here to experiment and innovate.

VDP Ortsweine – these are wines that express regionality. The grapes must come from one village and offer a sense of expression of that particular place. Only regional grape varieties are used, and many come from the higher-classified Grosse Lage or Erste Lage sites.

VDP Erste Lage – these wines are Premier Cru from first-class vineyards where there are optimal growing conditions. These wines must also be grown with a view to sustainability and tradition.

VDP Grosse Lage – these wines come from the highest quality German vineyards. They are complex, express single vineyard sites, and are known for their long-aging. These wines also must also be grown and made with a view to sustainability and tradition.

Membership is by invitation only, and with producers known for long-standing quality and a commitment to excellence.  Members must also adhere to strict rules including low yields, higher starting must weights, selective hand harvesting, and five-yearly inspections.

Promotion remains a major aspect of its activities. The VDP has developed its own quality pyramid based on the official German system,  with a specific focus on dry wines. Recently, they introduced a new classification for Sekt, German sparkling wine.

5% of Germany’s vineyards are included in the VDP classification, accounting for 7.5% of the turnover of the German wine industry.

Riesling is the most important grape among VDP producers with 55% of all VDP vineyards planted with Riesling, compared to 23% across Germany as a whole.

 

 

Other grape varieties approved for VDP Grosse Lage certification include:

Chardonnay

Weissburgunder

Spätburgunder

Grauburgunder

Frühburgunder

Traminer

Wine Trends:  What to watch for in 2020

Wine Intelligence has announced its annual Wine Trends Report for 2020, which will reflect global challenges in the industry.

Richard Halstead, COO of Wine Intelligence, states “wine is a risky business,” specifying challenges around climate change, discretionary consumer spending influences in different countries, and global trade policy changes.

Here are their five predictions for the next 12 months, assuming global consumer spending does not fall off a cliff, and the weather does not cause any more mayhem.

  1. Wine volume consumption will globally decline.

Wine Intelligence sees the developed world drinking less wine in 2020, but overall, the value of wine consumed won’t be heavily impacted.

“Those drinking less wine have compensated by spending more on the wine they do buy, with the characteristic result that prices per bottle have been rising considerably for several years now in major consumption markets,” said Halstead.

There’s a prediction that this trend could mean trouble for the producers and brands with business models dependent on selling more for smaller margins.

However, this trend also noted that consumers are looking for brands that are thoughtful, have provenance or are culturally interesting. In this way, premiumization is about not only the price and quality of the liquid but also of the brand’s story and actions.

2. Sustainability claims will be scrutinized.

Environmentally friendly buzzwords are thrown around commonly on wine packaging and marketing, and it’s predicted that 2020 will see consumers investigating these claims.

While Wine Intelligence research suggests that many consumers read the word “sustainable” and believe it, Halstead said: “we also notice a smaller but growing minority of purchasers are more fundamentally committed, typically for a combination of environmental, ethical, social or lifestyle reasons.

“Next year I expect this latter group to be more zealous in their scrutiny of winemaking or viticultural claims, and more willing to call out what they see as transgressions or unacceptable standards,” states Halstead.

3. CBD wine will be explored further.

Cannabis-based drinks have been on the radar of predictions for a while now, however, considering an array of different international laws, they have yet to take off.

“As with many things in our industry, cannabis drinks products remain at the mercy of regulators in most jurisdictions, not to mention some serious product development and taste optimization challenges,” said Halstead.

While Wine Intelligence is not anticipating mainstream acceptance or popularity of cannabis wine drinks in 2020, they do predict more companies will start to explore it.

4. Products from less high-profile wine countries will become more popular.

Wine Intelligence predicts countries like Germany, South Africa, Portugal, and Greece, will see great growth in the popularity of their wine products.

“We believe 2020 will be a year where some old styles become new again to the next generation of consumers,” said Halstead.

Halstead points to specific examples including German Riesling, refreshing whites and red blends from South Africa and Portugal, and lighter white styles coming from Greece.

Halstead also describes the common thread of these products and states: “All will be meeting the growing consumer needs for more aromatic, fresh, lower alcohol whites, and lower tannin but interesting reds.”

5. Greater investment into creative packaging and serve formats.

“Our prediction is that we will see far more innovation in packaging coming to market next year than we have in the past few years, driven by the needs of business to reduce carbon footprint, to offer more recyclable containers, and to offer serve sizes that fit an age devoted to lowering volumes but increasing values,” Halstead said.

Brands will be focused on labeling and designs that stand out to busy and more visually oriented consumers, while also being classic enough to reassure shoppers of their quality. Look out for different bottle shapes, icons and coloring that go against the grain of what else is on the shelf.

Wine Intelligence’s 2019 trends and predictions were over 80% accurate.