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  • 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

  • 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.