Who knows why talking about non-indigenous red grapes in Salento prompts comments that generally range from the perplexed to the unflattering, especially when it comes to supporters of enological fundamentalism and their feelings about so-called international grape varieties.?
I firmly believe that our future success as Salento producers will come to pass only by continuously improving the quality of wines made from Negroamaro and Primitivo.
Will we be capable of attaining this goal if, first of all, we shed light on the “clonal confusion” currently present in our vineyards? (I ask my fellow grape growers, why don’t we discuss this issue more often?)
Perhaps researchers should stop saying that they’ve already done their job: the rootstock currently available for new plantings continues to raise doubts as to its potential. Grape growers need to adopt more stringent growing practices and winemakers need to be more vigilant in the cellar.
The thing I don’t understand is this: if it’s true that every cultural expression is the fruit of contaminations that come from far away, why doesn’t this apply to enology?
Italian grape varieties from other regions have been grown in Salento for a number of decades. And today, they are included in the registry of officially recognized DOC grapes. More recently, French grape varieties have been included as well: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were the first and then Syrah, beginning in 2003.
In recent years, we have had the opportunity to observe the advantages and disadvantages of these varieties. And we have testing their potential for aging and we have experimented with their use in blends with indigenous grapes — in our case with Negroamaro.
We’ve been able to understand that the expression of our land can also be interpreted through colors, aromas, and flavors that we are not accustomed to. They inevitably lead us away from the beaten path and they reveal the great potential of our Salento.
We have just released our new Varius Syrah 2010 and Varius Merlot 2010.
They were vinified as 100% Sryan and Merlot respectively, with long, cold-soak maceration. Temperature-controlled fermentation was carried out at 24° C. These are wines for wine lovers who are looking to experience new horizons and who are open to thinking about Salento wines beyond any stereotypes and preconceptions. We hope that they will judge the wine for what it is and not for the idea behind them.
—Gianni Cantele, winemaker