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  • Why Chardonnay from Puglia? The answer lies in a church…

    Above: Estate-grown Chardonnay that is used to make Cantele’s line of Chardonnay wines.

    When people first become familiar with the wines of the Cantele family, they are often surprised to discover that the winery produces Chardonnay.

    Primitivo? Of course! The great red workhorse of Pugliese wine.

    Negroamaro? It goes without saying! Negroamaro is the quintessential red grape of the Salento peninsula and it produces one of the greatest wines of Italy.

    Historically, Puglia has been known for its production of red grapes. And there was a time (and not so long ago that people don’t remember) when red wine was shipped from Puglia up to Northern Italy and even as far away as France. It was often blended into red wines that needed higher alcohol levels or more color.

    Indeed, Puglia was a powerhouse in commercial wine production throughout the modern era.

    If you drank a red wine in a Paris restaurant at the height of the phylloxera crisis during the mid-nineteenth century, it’s not unlikely that you drank a wine grown in Puglia.

    best italian chardonnayAbove: When you visit the historical center of Lecce, you are literally surrounded by Salento limestone.

    It wasn’t until the early 1990s when Augusto Cantele began experimenting with new approaches to grape harvest that Chardonnay became a commercially viable grape variety in Puglia and he is widely recognized as the Chardonnay pioneer of the Salento peninsula.

    He believed — and his vision for white wine in Puglia has become a reality — that the limestone subsoils of Puglia’s Salento Peninsula were ideal for the cultivation of Chardonnay.

    Indeed, the entire Salento peninsula lies on limestone.

    That same limestone is what gives the city of Lecce it’s golden baroque architecture.

    It’s also what has made Puglia one of the world’s greatest olive oil producers since antiquity.

  • “Best value.” Wine Spectator on Cantele Salice Salentino…

    Here’s what Wine Spectator Italian editor Alison Napjus has to say about the Cantele Salice Salentino, a wine she has included in her “best value” round ups.

    Cantele Salice Salentino
    89 points
    BEST VALUE

    Juicy flavors of ripe wild strawberry and red licorice mark the start to this light-to medium-bodied red, with supple tannins lending some structure and weight. Savory accents of garrigue, loamy earth and star anise echo on the finish.

    The wine has also been included by Wine Spectator senior editor Tim Fish in his Memorial Day recommendations for summer grilling.

    Click here for his blog post.

  • Paolo and Gianni featured in Food & Wine magazine

    From the archives, Food & Wine magazine’s feature story on the Cantele family and its winery (2014).

    “For decades,” writes Ray Isle, Food & Wine executive wine editor and one of the most popular writers in the U.S. today, “most Pugliese wine was sold in bulk to northern Italy.”

    “‘I remember my grandfather working all day to send wine out of Puglia — these huge trucks taking wine up to make vermouth,” says Giuseppe Cupertino, sommelier for Due Camini at the Borgo Egnazia resort, one of the region’s top restaurants. ‘They’d come to my hometown in November, truck after truck after truck — even late at night. I’d see their lights driving away.'”

    “Augusto Cantele was one of the first local winemakers to try to change that situation, and he worked for decades to raise people’s awareness of Puglia’s extraordinary potential. Now his sons, Paolo and Gianni, are running the Cantele Winery with the same ambition.”

    Click here to read a complete version of the article.

  • Gianni Cantele ends his mandate as Coldiretti Puglia president

    Above: Gianni (center) with Coldiretti colleagues at a rally protesting counterfeit Italian food products.

    This week, Gianni Cantele stepped down as president of Coldiretti Puglia, the regional office of the Italian confederation of food growers.

    “Today was last day as president of Coldiretti Puglia,” wrote Gianni on his Facebook. “It’s been nearly six years and an extraordinary experience that gave me the chance to have a 360° look at our region’s agriculture. I’ve learned about our region’s excellence and our still untapped potential. And I’ve even come to understand some of our contradictions, issues we need to work to solve with earnestness and honesty. I also had the privilege of being able to count on the support of our many Coldiretti partners. And thanks to their efforts, we ‘occupied’ piazzas and roads in Puglia with our rallies and events. Our focus has been the promotion and safeguarding of our identity and the value of our products. And we’ve tried to ‘contaminate’ Pugliese society with equity and respect for our land.”

    “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some big-hearted people. And they are owed much more than this quick thanks. I’m not leaving the team, though. I’ll be serving as president of the Lecce Federation as we face the dramatic situation caused by Xylella fastidiosa. It’s going to be an equally challenging task but I owe it to my land.”

  • Cantele Salice Salentino wins Slow Wine award for “daily wine”

    It’s always been our mission to create high-quality, value-driven wines. Our top wines are always a source of great reward for us. But we are also extremely proud of our wines that deliver quality at a great price. And we were thrilled to be awarded the “Daily Wine” award by the editors of the prestigious Slow Wine guide to the wines of Italy.