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  • “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.

    On one of the many business trips that Gianni made from Imola to Lecce (Puglia’s baroque masterpiece and the hub of its viticulture), he took his wife Teresa with him. It was love at first sight: as soon as they arrived in Lecce, she made up her mind that she wanted to move the whole family there.

    In the year’s leading up to Italy’s “economic miracle” and post-war recovery, it was unthinkable that a family with a thriving business would choose to abandon the prosperous north and relocate in the south, where agriculture was still the leading industry. But Gianni’s devotion to Teresa and their shared love of the pristine Salento peninsula inspired the couple to make a “reverse” migration. When most young married couples were moving to the north in search of factory jobs, the Cantele family backed the bags and headed in the opposite direction.

    Teresa and Gianni’s son Augusto, 16 years old at the time, was reluctant to follow the family to the “deep south” — even though, in his later years, there was no one who loved Salento more. He remained in the north and went to school to study enology in Conegliano at the historic Institute for Viticultural Research and Experimentation. After completing his degree, he “cut his teeth” in the wine industry working at wineries in the Veneto (northern Italy), where he developed his deft hand for making white wines.

    At the end of the 1960s, August finally decided to reunite with his family in Lecce and he began working as a consulting enologist in the townships of Guagnano and Salice Salentino. In 1979, father Gianni and sons Augusto and Domenico decided to start a new winery under the family name. In the early years, Cantele was a bottler, purchasing wines from the wineries where Augusto worked as a consultant. Then, in the 1990s, Cantele began to acquire vineyards and started making its own wines.

    The 1990s were important years for Italian wine, with impressive growth in foreign markets, particularly in the U.S. and Central and Northern Europe. In 2003, to meet the growing demand for its wines in Italy and abroad, Cantele opened a new state-of-the-art winery between the villages of Fra Guagnano and Salice Salentino (the best growing zone in Puglia).

    Today, the Cantele family owns 50 hectares planted to vine and the family’s current winemaker Gianni Cantele (one of Augusto’s sons) and agronomist Cataldo Ferrari manage another 150 hectares owned by other growers. Augusto’s other son Paolo Cantele is the winery’s brand manager and Domenico’s son Umberto is head of sales. Domenico’s daughter Luisa also works in the estate’s corporate offices together with Gianni’s wife Gabriella. The business remains to this day a true “family affair.”

    Grandfather Gianni was a red wine lover. Grandmother Teresa preferred white. When Gianni lovingly scolded her, noting that there were plenty of red grapes in the world that she could enjoy, she responded by saying that if he wouldn’t make her any white wine, she would ask their son Augusto to make her some.

    Teresa Manara Chardonnay and Teresa Manara Negroamaro are named in her honor.

  • 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.

  • See you at the Merano Wine Festival November 9-13

    The best wines from Italy and around the world will be featured this year at the majestic Kurhaus event space at the Merano Wine Festival. Now in its 27th year, this gathering brings together top wines, beers, distillates, and food products thanks to a meticulous selection of only the very best labels. Five days full of passion and learning, in one of the most beautiful places on earth. And it’s all centered around the greatest wines from across the globe.

    We are pleased to announce that three of our wines have been selected for the festival dates (November 9-13): Teresa Manara Chardonnay Late Harvest “6 Settembre”, Amativo, and Fanòi. You will find us in Sissi Hall, stand 349.

    Image via the Merano Festival Facebook.

  • “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.

  • 95 points for Teresa Manara Chardonnay from Daniele Cernilli and Doctor Wine!

    We were thrilled to receive news that the Cantele 2016 Late Harvest Chardonnay Teresa Manara was awarded 95/100 points by Daniele Cernilli, one of the world’s great Italian wine experts and critics, founder and longtime editor of the Gambero Rosso guide to Italian wines and now editor of an immensely popular online wine portal, Doctor Wine.

    The score will be officially presented in October of this year when he presents Doctor Wine’s new guide to the wines of Italy.