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

    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.

    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.

  • Homemade taralli (and Cantele rosé) at Gradisca in New York

    How could we not share the above photo from one of our favorite restaurants in New York City?

    Those are taralli, the classic savory snack from Puglia, homemade at Gradisca in Manhattan, one of the city’s leading Italian culinary destinations.

    The folks at Gradisca, which is named after the famous character in Federicao Fellini’s classic film Amarcord, take most of their inspiration from Emilia-Romagna (be sure to try the tigelle btw!).

    But they also venture out into other regional cuisines of Italy, like these taralli (from their Facebook).

    Technically a savory shortbread, taralli are baked using just flour, olive oil, and salt — Pugliese flour and olive oil, of course!

    Some believe that they originated as a sort of friendship ring that travelers could carry with them.

    Our English-language blogger once heard Master of Wine Jancis Robinson say that they were possibly the best accompaniment to wine tasting (no joke!).

    Not only will you find fun specials like this at Gradisca, but you can also drink Cantele Rosato there.

    We couldn’t be more proud to be part of this extraordinary program.

    Gradisca
    126 W 13th St.
    New York NY 10011
    (212) 691-4886
    Google map

  • Harvest 2019 comes to an end…

    Those are some of the very last Negroamaro grapes that winemaker Gianni Cantele and his team harvested last week.

    The bunches will be used to make Cantele’s top red wine, the Teresa Manara Negroamaro.

    A native grape variety of Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot), Negroamaro is considered by many to be the region’s top red grape. Traditionally blended with smaller amounts of Malvasia Nera to make the Cantele Salice Salentino, its rich flavor and freshness also make it suitable for barrique-aging (as in the case of the Teresa Manara, made from 100 percent Negroamaro grapes).

    Gianni is very happy with this year’s harvest and expects the wines to be classic in style.

    No one really knows the origin of the grape name, although some believe it to mean bitter red [grape], possibly inspired by the fact that it is an excellent grape to use in the production of dry red wines.

    Others think that the name might be a hybrid compound of Latin and Greek meaning red-red [grape], perhaps because Latin and Greek were once spoke in Puglia, a former Greek colony that was ultimately conquered by the Romans.

  • Wine Spectator “Smart Buys”: Cantele Salice Salentino 90 points!

    From a preview of the November 2019 issue of Wine Spectator:

    Cantele 2015 Salice Salentino Riserva
    90 points
    “Smart Buy”

    This fresh, medium-bodied red shows a lovely mix of ripe and black fruit, currant, raspberry and blackberry flavors, with light, creamy tannins and hints of iron and herb.

    Alison Napjus
    senior editor