At the end of World War II, when most of the population of Puglia was moving North to work in the big factories near Torino and Milano, Giovanni Battista Cantele, a wine merchant living in the nothern city of Imola, moved his family to Salento. The final decision was made by his wife Teresa Manara, who, at the time, barely knew anything about the area but fell in love with Puglia at first sight. She would later become the inspiration for a wine that now bears her name. After studying winemaking in Conegliano, Giovanni's son, Augusto Cantele, started the family winery, Cantine Cantele, with his father and his brother Domenico in 1979. Today, Teresa Manara and Giovanni Battista Cantele’s grandchildren run the winery together: Augusto’s children, Gianni and Paolo; and Domenico’s children, Umberto and Luisa. The Cantele winery is located in Guagnano, in the heart of the DOC where Negro Amaro dominates the landscape. Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, Puglia is a land of rare beauty, where vast plains alternate with gentle hills. Salento, the long narrow strip that forms Puglia’s southern peninsula, extends between the Ionian and Adriatic seas. It’s an area rich with ancient olive groves and vines, enchanting beaches and jagged rocky shoreline.
Italian Red Wine
While picturesque hillsides, endless coastlines and a favorable climate serve to unify the grape-growing culture of this country. The apparent never-ending world of indigenous grape varieties gives Italy an unexampled charm and allure for its red wines. From the steep inclines of the Alps to the sprawling, warm, coastal plains of the south, red grape varieties thrive throughout.
The kings of Italy, wines like Barolo and Barbaresco (made of Nebbiolo), and Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino (made of Sangiovese), as well as Amarone (mostly Corvina), play center stage for the most lauded, collected and cellar-worthy reds. Less popular but entirely deserving of as much praise are the wines made from Aglianico, Sagrantino and Nerello Mascalese.
For those accustomed to drinking New World reds, the south is the place to start. Grapes like Negroamaro or Primitvo from Puglia and Nero d’Avola from Sicily make soft, ammicable, full-bodied, fruit-dominant wines. Curious palates should be on the lookout for Cannonau (Grenache), Lagrein, Teroldego, Ruché, Freisa, Cesanese, Schiopettino, Rossese and Gaglioppo to name a few.