Dry White Hills of Red
By Rory Winston
Rising from the sandy beaches that hang like a wreath along the Adriatic's turquoise sea, the chalk white world of Puglia with its limestone hills, stone towers, and row upon row of olive trees and grapevines. Here, 3000 years of wine making tradition – from ancient Greek to Roman to Turkish, French and Spanish – collude to create some the best wines in the world, many of which are still known only by connoisseurs. Relying on grapes like the earthy licorice toned Aglianico and the velvety ruby colored Negroamaro and the spicy but fruity Nero di Troia, the region is responsible for phenomenal reds; while its Fiano – a white with apple and pear overtones – and Moscato Bianca – a highly aromatic light bodied wine whose use is said to date as far back as ancient Greece – lend authority to many of its whites. Although Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon may be the most commonly known of the locally produced wines, there is no getting around the fact that anyone genuinely hungry for the best in local wines should make it a point to become familiar with Aglianico, Fiano, Moscato di Trani and Nero di Troia. Nowhere are these brilliant assortments more pronounced and plentiful than in Bocca di Lupo – an estate set in the hills of the Murgia region.
A farmhouse of all white stone sits atop the chalky soil of vineyards still touched by Vulture, the volcanic region to its south. The temperatures at the Bocca di Lupo Estate are varied. With 90 degree summers and winter frosts, the delicate aromas of the grapes are maximally enhanced. Utilizing Moscato di Trani DOC, the estate also creates a special after-dinner wine known as Kaloro which many believe to have (like Moscato Bianca) its roots in Ancient Greece. The cool sera breezes and abundant sunshine creates an atmosphere that is not only conducive to the creation of fantastic wines but is also a joy for those who wish to visit.
Apulia teams with exciting places to visit and it is precisely in this area where the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II built the wondrous octagonal Castel del Monte, considering the region the finest in the entire realm. This is no small claim coming from an Emperor who was not only in charge of a vast territory but one who was known to be very open minded and worldly. Of course, if ancient text is anything to go by, wine in the region has held it charms earlier than 400 BC, the period in which the Greek historian, Thucydides, announced "The people of the Mediterranean region began to emerge from barbarism when they learnt how to cultivate the olive and the vine". That cultivation – having started thousands of years ago – continues unimpeded in places like Bocca di Lupo. Here, the timeless art sits perched on hills that are bathed by the sea's humidity and dried by the mineral rich soil below.
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