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  • Augusto Cantele, Pugliese wine pioneer

    The story of Cantele founder Giovanni Battista Cantele’s “reverse” post-war immigration has been told many times.

    In an era when most southern Italians were heading north to find work in the factories of Milan and Turin, Giovanni Battista headed from Imola in Romagna to Lecce in Puglia. He had traveled there many times to broker the sale of grapes to be sent to the north. And while many of his contemporaries continued to operate in the north, traveling south as necessary, Giovanni Battista set up shop in Lecce where he worked directly with growers whose grapes were used to obtain darker color and higher alcohol levels in the cooler climate of the north, where — in a time before climate change — winemakers struggled to quench the thirst of Italy’s emerging middle class.
    Continue reading Augusto Cantele, Pugliese wine pioneer

  • Gianni Cantele on barrique fermentation and aging

    Cantele winemaker Gianni Cantele on his approach to barrique fermentation and aging.

    Here at Cantele, we currently have about 700 barriques, small oak casks used for aging wine. Almost all of them come from French coopers and are made with French wood. 10% of our barriques are made from American wood and are used solely for the aging of our Primitivo.

    A French barrique costs Euro 700. Why am I telling you this? So that you can get a sense of the budget required for a winery that has roughly 700 barriques in its cellar. This is one of the reasons that wines aged in wood casks cost more.

    Many people believe, erroneously, that wood casks are used to give a certain flavor to the wine. The truth is that the wine is conceived in the vineyard and that’s the wine that we put into the barriques. When we’re making an important wine, with a lot of structure, the wine has the muscle needed for cask aging.
    Continue reading Gianni Cantele on barrique fermentation and aging

  • Salice Salentino 90 points Robert Parker for your holiday consideration

    Cantele 2013 Salice Salentino
    90 points

    The Cantele 2013 Salice Salentino Riserva shows a greater level of depth and finesse compared to many of its peers. The wine is packed tight with blackberry fruit, with Maraschino cherry, plum and prune in abundance. The wine is chewy and rich for sure, but it also provides an authentic and generous portrait of a red wine from Puglia. A spicy beef or lamb dish would make the perfect pairing partner.

    Cantele is another exciting winery that represents the energy and the innovation that comes with a new generation. The Cantele family, including siblings Gianni, Paolo, Umberto and Luisa, are symbols of the Salento new wave. They show careful attention to the Negroamaro grape (they even make a Metodo Classico sparkling wine with the variety that is very interesting) and experiment with Verdeca, Fiano, Primitivo and international varieties such as Chardonnay. I had the opportunity to visit the estate this year and learned of the many growth possibilities they hold for the future. For example, they own an abandoned Masseria (rural farmstead) that would make a fantastic visitor’s center or boutique hotel. I know that the next time I come to visit they will have new ideas to pursue. Cantele is a winery that emits a feeling of constant movement and forward-momentum.

    Monica Larner
    Robert Parker Wine Advocate
    August 2016

  • “A rare jewel of a rosé.”

    “This is a terrific food wine, perhaps the most food-friendly rosé I’ve tasted in a year,” writes top U.S. wine blogger Meg Houston Maker.

    “It has enough heft to stand up to grilled foods but enough freshness to pair with salads, cold seafood, and young cheeses. Plus, it looks beautiful on the summer table. A rare jewel of a rosé.”

    We’re always thrilled to see Cantele wines in the media. But it was a special treat for us to read her impressions: She’s a leading U.S. wine educator and blogger and her writing (including her contributions to Palate Press) stand apart in our view as some of the best and most informed wine writing in America today (her background is in creative writing).

    You can call her a “wine writer.” But we call her a damn good writer who just happens to write about wine…

    Click here for her post.

    Image via Meg Houston Maker’s Facebook.

  • The Cantele Story

    The founder of the Cantele winery, Giovanni Battista Cantele — grandfather to the current generation — was born in 1907 in Pramaggiore (in the Province of Venice). During the Second World War, he moved to Imola (Province of Bologna) where he met and married the beautiful Teresa Manara. The couple had two sons, Augusto and Domenico.

    After the war, Gianni — as he was known — made a career for himself in the wine trade. Like many in his generation, he found steady work as a broker of bulk wine that he would purchase in Puglia and then sell in Northern Italy. At the time, winemakers in northern Italy had difficulties in achieving the desired alcohol content and body in their wines — in part because of the climatic conditions and in part because of the available winemaking technology. It was not uncommon to ship wine from Puglia (where grape growers had no problems in obtaining fruit with sufficient sugar levels) to blend into the wines of the north. Expanding prosperity and a population explosion in the north had led to growing demand for quality wine.

    Continue reading The Cantele Story

  • 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.”