Italian Indigenous Varieties: Negro Amaro from Puglia

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Puglia or Apulia as we would say in English is a beautiful part of Italy. This long region is among the top wine producing regions in Italy. A large part of the wines are made with indigenous varieties such as Primitivo and Negro Amaro, two red grapes that many people know and have tasted in various iterations. They are by no means the only indigenous varieties from the region however today is Negro Amaro day in our series on Italian Indigenous Varieties.

I have been lucky enough to visit Puglia a number of times. Each time I visited the Salento. The photos above and below were taken in Lecce, a gorgeous city during the day and at night with its warm blond stones. I love Lecce and highly recommend visiting, even if your main focus is wine and food or a beach vacation – Lecce and Otranto, both in the Salento are must visit towns.

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There are many DOC wines made in Puglia that use negroamaro in their blends including Alezio, Brindisi, Copertino, Galatina, Gioia del Colle, Leverano, Martina, Nardò, Rosso di Cerignolo,  and Squinzano.  The region is so long and there are numerous micro-climates and terroirs that it is difficult to generalize about what the wines taste like. What one does often find is wines from the Northern part of the region that grow on the hills tend to have nice acidity while the reds from the South are fruit driven and tend to be high in alcohol. The Salento also makes fantastic roses’, often from Negro Amaro, a grape that I think makes very elegant wines.

In the past, Puglia has been a region of volume wines but the great work that many producers have been doing these last 15 years really shows across the board in all of their wines.

As this is a post about wines, I won’t wax poetic about the beaches and the water but Puglia does have some of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. I always felt that I was swimming inside an emerald.

We don’t know the origins of the Negro Amaro grape but the thinking is that it came to Puglia through Greece. The name is from the local dialect and refers to the high level of color and tannins in the wine. It grows mostly in the provinces of Brindisi, Lecce and Taranto. When made into a rosé, it is often blended with Malvasia Nera.

There is also a wonderful band with the name Negroamaro. One of their first albums , Mentre Tutto Scorre, was the musical theme of one of my best summers in Italy, memories I will treasure forever.

 

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