An uncharacteristic cloudy day greeted us (the weather on all my tours so far this year has been exceptional). Our first full day took us west of Lecce towards Taranto. Our destination was the tiny boutique Morella winery run by husband and wife team, Lisa Gilbee and Gaetano Morella. Lisa is Australian and found herself in Italy as a flying winemaker. She met Gaetano in Puglia and together they have established a very small (by any standard – let alone Puglian standards) garagiste style winery. With about 12 hectares of very old vine Primitivo, Malbec and Verdeca plus some other experimental plots, yield is extremely low.
We were entertained in their newly built house, in the middle of nowhere just outside Manduria.
The tasting was a masterclass in Puglian wine quality. We contrasted two white Fiano’s from 2015 and 2012 with the older wine showing some amazing depth and richness. Lisa then compared a Primitivo/Malbek (Puglian dialect spelling) from 2013 and 2010 and finished off with their flagship “La Signora” Primitivo from 2011 and 2005. Ageing wine is a relatively new concept in Puglia and this tasting clearly showed the amazing potential of Primitivo.
Wines Tasted at Morella
Mezzogiorno 2015 (Fiano)
Mezzogiorno 2012 (Fiano)
Primitivo La Signora 2011
Primitivo La Signora 2005
Salvatore, our driver, earned his stripes following a particularly challenging drive down narrow track lanes avoiding potholes and overhanging branches.
From Manduria, we headed back towards Lecce stopping off in Guagnano at another family owned estate – Cantele. The scale is somewhat larger with production at around 1.5million bottles – down from 3 million bottles a few years ago. The third generation now run the estate and are taking a modern progressive approach with a combination of local and international grapes and focussing on the higher quality restaurant market rather than bulk supermarket supply.
We tasted a contrasting range of wines over a traditional lunch. Fava bean puree and greens, roasted vegetables, fresh pasta and braised beef were the order of the day as we tasted through a selection of Cantele wines.
Wines Tasted at Cantele
Verdeca 2015 IGT Puglia
Chardonnay 2014 Teresa Manera IGT Salento
Rosato Rohesia 2015 Negroamaro IGT Salento
Salice Salentino Riserva 2012 DOC