On Saturday we retraced our steps from Thursday as we returned to Manduria – the spiritual home of the Primitivo grape. I wanted to taste through a comprehensive selection of Primitivo – and we did just that at Cantine Soloperto. This family owned property pioneered the development of Primitivo in the early 70’s by bottling it themselves and labelling it under the family name. The significance of this fact is that at this time Puglia growers generally didn’t bottle – they would ship the wine in bulk – particularly to the north of Italy to bolster up the lighter reds or to make vermouth. Wine would be sold locally from the tank and people would fill up their own containers. Soloperto were even bottling their wines before the DOC was introduced in 1974.
Having tasted a light fresh white DOC Locorotondo made from the Verdeca grape, we moved onto the main selection. Four Primitivo di Manduria wines that showed the evolution of Primitivo – from a smooth easy drinking IGT Salento style through to a super intense 17% example that was incredibly well balanced. We finished off with the Nektare Dolce Naturale. The Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale was the first wine in Puglia to receive a DOCG – the highest status in Italian wine law. A minimum of 80 gms/litre residual sugar make this a delicious sweet wine without being too sickly or unctuous and yet retaining the typical richness that Primitivo delivers.
We headed back to Lecce to relax and prepare for our dinner event at Castello Monaci, a castle dripping in history, originally French owned but in Italian family hands for the past three hundred years.
Our route to the Castello was potentially perilous as we followed a white van for most of the journey and the driver was clearly unsure of which side of the road to drive on and there was much veering around. To our amazement, he turned into the Castello driveway and delivered the wedding cake for the wedding that was taking place! How it stayed in one piece I do not know.
The roof top view of 200 hectares of vineyards was magnificent to behold. There are three incarnations of cellar and winery on site and the historical perspective of viticulture ion Salento was fascinating. Having tasted a terrific range of wines in the winery we headed out to the fountain on the main square for some pre-dinner drinks and canapes.
It was a delightful setting, very warm and
we dined magnificently in one of the elegant dining areas, surrounded by coats of arms and tapestries.
A superb dinner followed with a delightful selection of antipasti, pasta stuffed with ricotta and basil, beef and porcini mushrooms and a selection of bite sized desserts. A cracking end to a great tour!