80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce
Castello Monaci stands out in the heart of the Salice Salentino DOC, which is located in Puglia, a region along the Adriatic in the “heel of the boot” of farthest southeast Italy. The production of Castello Monaci’s estate wines is carefully followed from the vineyards to the winery and into the bottle. The estate is dedicated to their sustainable philosophy and is one of a small number of Italian estates to have their sustainability certified by DNV-GL, a globally recognized firm. Even Castello Monaci’s packaging is eco-friendly, carrying the Environmental Management System Certificate logo. Castello Monaci is a benchmark producer crafting wines from Southern Italy’s indigenous grapes: Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera. The region of Puglia is drenched in the most intense sunlight in all of Italy tempered only by the Adriatic and Ionian seas which provide con¬stant, cooling maritime winds. This unique climate helps produce exquisitely balanced fruit. The Castello Monaci estate is housed in a 16th century castle with medieval foundations once run by Basilian monks who maintained a long wine¬making tradition. Lina Memmo, whose family has owned the estate since the 19th century, and husband Vitantonio Seracca Guerrieri, currently own the property. Each vineyard parcel is cultivated, harvested—always at night to unsure the best quality of grapes—and vinified separately in small tanks. The area dedicated to aging wines is a spectacular barrel cellar dug out of the hard rock that houses 1,000 barriques and 18 French oak barrels. Castello Monaci’s cellars are surrounded by over 350 acres of vineyards, including old vine Negroamaro and Primitivo. In addition, they have expanded their estate with holdings near Brindisi planted with white varietals. Vitantonio Seracca Guerrieri, president of the estate, who for years has experimented with selections to enhance the native vines of Salento, supervises the work in the vineyards personally.
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.