• Cantele Chardonnay Teresa Manara brings home top honor at Bibenda gala

    On Saturday, November 30, the editors of the Bibenda guide to the wines of Italy held their annual gala awards ceremony at one of Rome’s ritziest hotels.

    Paolo Cantele was on hand to receive the Cinque Grappoli (Five Bunches) award, the publication’s top ranking, for Cantele’s 2017 Late Harvest Chardonnay Teresa Manara.

    This wine has a special place in the Cantele family’s heart: It’s named after the grandmother to the current generation, the woman who fell in love with Salento and decided that she and her husband should relocate there in the years that followed World War II.

    It’s also a special wine because it was winemaker Gianni and export director Paolo’s father, Augusto Cantele, who became a pioneer of Italian Chardonnay when he began making the wines in Salento in the late 1990s.

    As Paolo wrote on the estate’s Facebook, “it’s an award that we are proud of, as winemakers and as Pugliesi.”

    The Bibenda guide to the wines of Italy is one of Italy’s most prestigious. For five decades, its editors have been publishing some of the country’s most respected guides to Italian wines, olive oils, and distillates. In 2013 it created the Italian Sommelier Foundation to expand its reach into wine education. It’s widely considered to be one of Italy’s most important food and wine-focused associations in the world. The Cantele family couldn’t be more thrilled to receive this top award.

    Image via the official Bibenda Facebook.

  • 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.

  • Getting ready for the 2019 harvest…

    Across the northern hemisphere, grape growers and winemaker like the Cantele family are gearing up for the 2019 harvest.

    That’s an artistic shot of Cantele winemaker Gianni Cantele in the vineyards, taken this week.

    As grapes reach optimal ripeness, the growers need to be constantly testing sugar and acidity levels. That’s because one of the most crucial moments — indeed, the most important moment — is when they decide to begin picking and which blocks they’ll pick first.

    At Cantele, it’s always the Chardonnay that’s harvested first (at least most of it; they leave some in the vineyard for a late-harvest wine they make).

    Of course, growers depend on lab analyses of the berries to determine the right moment to begin the harvest.

    But more than anything else, they rely on their time in the vineyards. As Gianni will tell you, he can tell when the time is right just by walking through the vines and sampling the fruit.

    Stay tuned for updates on Cantele’s 2019 harvest!

  • Cantele Chardonnay for summer: A Chardonnay “benchmark”

    Augusto Cantele changed the course of Puglia viticulture when he first began to grow and vinify Chardonnay in Salento in the early 1990s.

    After years spent studying winemaking and working in wineries in northern Italy, where Italy’s white production was focused at the time, not only had he nurtured a taste for fresh, fruit-driven whites, but he also had developed his immense skill and experience in growing practices and vinification techniques used in the production of top white wines.

    Even before he returned to Puglia to join his family’s winery, he had long dreamed of making Chardonnay in his family’s adoptive homeland — Puglia’s Salento peninsula. When the estate began releasing its first white wines, he became a pioneer of Chardonnay production in the region.

    Today, the winery’s bottlings of Chardonnay — from its youthful Chardonnay to the French barrique-aged Teresa Manara — are considered benchmarks for the category.

  • Twenty years of Teresa Manara Chardonnay, named after the woman who inspired it all…

    This year marks the twentieth vintage of Cantele Teresa Manara Chardonnay, named after the Cantele family’s grandmother, the woman whose love of Salento inspired her husband to relocate to Puglia.

    Rhythms that repeat themselves, over and over, just like the sunrise.

    Between ancient olive trees and expert hands, traditions intertwine every evening surrounded by two seas but just one sunset.

    Under a hot sun, men and women sing among the vines. Their hands are rough and their movements soft.

    Run, Teresa. The earth is warm under your feet. You taught us how color tells us when the moment is right. Run. The fruit is ripe and harvest won’t wait.

    Twenty summers, twenty harvests. Winds that blow from the north and dry the dew. A new vintage is ready. It’s ready and it whispers your name.

  • Barrique-fermented Chardonnay at Cantele

    This September, winemaker Gianni Cantele shared the photo below on Facebook.

    Those are French barriques, 225-liter oak casks, used for fermenting the winery’s flagship Teresa Manara Chardonnay. Check out the Facebook post where he also shared video of the wine as it begins to ferment.
    As Gianni explains, some of the barriques are new while some of them have already been used for two or three vintages.

    After fermentation is complete, he will blend the wine using all three “expressions” of the vintage — from new, 2-year, and 3-year casks.

    Continue reading Barrique-fermented Chardonnay at Cantele

  • Teresa Manara Chardonnay “Dieci Settembre” (“September 10”)

    September 10 was a particularly meaningful date in the 2013 harvest: It was the date we picked the last bunches of our Chardonnay. We harvested them just as they were enjoying the last rays of summer sunlight and the cool mornings that announce the arrival of fall.

    This day was also the culmination of a patient wait that had been devoted to the grapes in a small zone in our Teresa Manara vineyard. The area is remarkable for its perfect soil and climate. The limestone-rich earth is medium-compact with great drainage. And so it’s ideal for late-ripening the bunches on the vine, a natural process aided by the wind and carried out with great patience.

    The breeze is always an invisible player in the phases that precede the harvest. It’s an essential element in allowing the grapes to reach and surpass their physiological ripeness while still perfectly healthy and intact. It helps to give this wine its unmistakable aromatic character.

    Continue reading Teresa Manara Chardonnay “Dieci Settembre” (“September 10”)

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