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  • Negroamaro: origin of the grape name

    A post from our American wine blogger Jeremy Parzen, author of DoBianchi.com.

    The “numerous synonyms” of Negroamaro, write the editors of Jancis Robinson’s excellent Wine Grapes (New York, HarperCollins, 2012), “suggest that Negroamaro is an old and historically widespread variety. Its etymology and origin are disputed: some authors suggest a simple etymology from negro (‘black’) and amaro (‘bitter’), while others supposed a Greek etymology and origin from mavro (‘black’), despite the redundancy of ‘black black’, referring to the historical links between Puglia and Greece. Since Negroamaro’s DNA shows no relation to modern Greek varieties, the ‘black-bitter hypothesis’ seems more logical. In addition, a variety named Negro Dolce (‘black sweet’) is documented in Salento in the nineteenth century, probably to distinguish it from the better amaro one.”

    As a philologist, I might tweak their speculation that the “black-bitter hypothesis’ seems more logical.” After all, etymology is rarely logical however plausible. In other words, word origins seldom align as neatly as the human mind and heart would like.
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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.
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  • 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.

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