Italian Regions: Puglia – Brindisi, Maci Family

Brindisi is such a curious word. On the one hand it means let’s have a toast, a “brindisi” to someone or something. On the other, it used to bring to mind ferries going to the Greek islands, a port city like so many others. However Brindisi, the city, is much more than that.

Brindisi, in particular and Puglia, in general used to be the agricultural basket and wine providing area for the Roman legions when they set off for their conquests. The Salento has been a well known region for centuries but Brindisi has never been top of the mind except for a few wineries.

Brindisi is on my mind today because of the terrible news of a bomb at a girl’s school. The attack happened at a school named after Giovanni Falcone and his wife who were killed 20 years ago on May 23. Very sad.

I have dear friends from Brindisi too but I haven’t been back to Brindisi since my first foray when I was in college, taking the ferry to Greece, along with thousands of other people. I’ve had a number of wines from Brindisi, even as recently as this past Vinitaly.

When talking about wine and Brindisi, there is one family name that comes to mind, Maci. Angelo Maci is the head of the cooperative cellar, Cantine Due Palme which has 1000 members and over 2200 hectares of vines. Maci has been very active for years in Cellino San Marco (Brindisi). He is the third generation in his family to work in the industry following his father Marco and grandfather Angelo.

He’s not the only Maci well known in the area. His son, Marco Maci, has also made quite a name for himself in the world of wines from Puglia with his winery, Azienda Agricola La Mea.

I know Marco a little bit, having met with him several times at Vinitaly and in New York. He’s very warm and generous, quite a gregarious and big personality, just like some of his wines. His luxury line is a big showy group of wines with beautiful black packaging and stylish labels but it is his young and classic lines that I prefer, those made with indigenous varieties from Puglia.

One that I liked a lot is called, Lume di Candela, a wine made with 70% Negroamaro and 30% Malvasia Nera, two great indigenous varieties from Puglia. A second that I particularly enjoyed is called Ribo made with 100% Negroamaro. Marco makes a number of wines that have a large precentage of Negroamaro, with varying degrees of oak aging.

Negroamaro is a  grape that I really enjoy. It’s tannins are much light than one might expect. Despite that, I prefer the ones that spend less time in wood.  Many wine makers blend Negroamaro with other wines. I prefer blends made with indigenous varieties. Here’s a fun post on the grape in an interesting blog called By The Tun.

I can’t post something about Italy without mentioning the earthquake  that took place earlier today. Thoughts and prayers to the victims and their families.

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