The beautiful southern Italian region of Puglia is a particularly fascinating wine region for fans of modern Italian produce. For much of the twentieth century, the region was considered one associated primarily with the kind of mass produced, dull Italian wine which almost cost the country its reputation in the 1970s. However, Puglian wine makers today are determined to prove to the world that their wineries and native grape varietals can match those of Italy’s more famous regions, and have been on a mission to produce stunning wines made in the traditional, distinctive Puglian style. This generally means wines with big characters, a relatively high alcohol content, and plenty of dark, deep, complex fruit flavors and aromas; wines which are unique, made with traditional methods and techniques, and which are utterly delicious and inviting.
For several decades in the mid to late twentieth century, Italy’s reputation for quality wines took a fairly serious blow. This was brought about partly due to lack of regulation in certain regions, and too much regulation in others. This led to several wineries in the beautiful and highly fertile region of Tuscany making the bold move to work outside of the law, which they saw as responsible for the drop in quality in Tuscan wines. They believed that they had the expertise and the generations of experience necessary with which to make truly excellent, world class wines, and set about doing just that. These ‘Super Tuscans’, as they came to be known, quickly inspired the rest of Italy to improve their produce, and now, Italian wine producers in the twenty-first century are widely recognised to be amongst the best in the world. Regulation and law began to change, and wine drinkers across the globe woke up to the outstanding wines coming out of Italy, which are continuing to improve and impress to this day.
Li Veli is situated in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot, which is also the largest wine-producing region in the country. In 1999 the Falvo family (former owners of Avignonesi in Tuscany) bought the 128 acre property in Salice Salentino, heart of the Salento region. The vineyard portion of the estate currently measures 35 hectares Li Veli highlights the region’s principal native varietals, like Negroamaro and Primitivo, which are made into powerful, inky dark wines of great character and elegance. Through proper vineyard management and vinification Li Veli has established a new quality benchmark for wines from Puglia.
Susumaniello, whose name is a reference to its productivity (literally it means “loading up the donkey” or something close to that), has been around for years, but has only recently come into prominence in Puglia, especially in monovarietal wines. It actually is the offspring of Garganega, the main white grape of Soave.
This excellent example is worth seeking out, offering lots of complexity at a reasonable price point. On the nose it features cherry and red berries intermixed with earth and leathery hints. Fruit is a little darker on the palate: plum, blueberry. It’s ripe — as one would expect from Southern Italy — without being overripe. My only gripe is a little too much caramel from the oak. Still a great way to try a new grape. RECOMMENDED.
ASKOS is the name of our project of rediscovery and selection of ancient Apulian grape varieties that are almost disappearing. Wines are produced by using exclusively these indigenous varietals, cultivated in their most suitable terroirs according the traditional method. We have chosen a Greek “Askos” (=Decanter) as a symbol of the wine making, a practice that in Puglia was started by the ancient Greeks.
Ruby red with purplish shimmer, on the nose it presents a distinct red berries aroma, from raspberry, sour cherry, to blackcurrant, followed by liquorices, rhubarb and rawhide leather. On the mouth it tastes soft with a good fatness, very elegant and well balanced by a tannins party. The long finish on the palate shows a touch of acidity and a great freshness.