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.
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture virtually inextricable from red, white and sparkling wines. Wine grapes grow in every region throughout Italy—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean.
Italian Wine Regions
Naturally, most Italian wine regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate and a notable coastline, if not coastline on all borders, as is the case with the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Alps in the northern Italian wine regions of Valle d'Aosta, Lombardy and Alto Adige create favorable conditions for cool-climate grape varieties. The Apennine Mountains, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south, affect climate, grape variety and harvest periods throughout. Considering the variable terrain and conditions, it is still safe to say that most high quality viticulture in Italy takes place on picturesque hillsides.
Italian Grape Varieties
Italy boasts more indigenous grape varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most Italian wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some Italian wine regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but are declining in popularity, especially as younger growers take interest in reviving local varieties. Most important are Sangiovese, reaching its greatest potential in Tuscany, as well as Nebbiolo, the prized grape of Piedmont, producing single varietal, age-worthy Piedmontese wines. Other important varieties include Corvina, Montepulciano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course the white wines, Trebbiano, Verdicchio and Garganega. The list goes on.
Whether it’s playful and fun or savory and serious, most rosé today is not your grandmother’s White Zinfandel, though that category remains strong. Pink wine has recently become quite trendy, and this time around it’s commonly quite dry. Since the pigment in red wines comes from keeping fermenting juice in contact with the grape skins for an extended period, it follows that a pink wine can be made using just a brief period of skin contact—usually just a couple of days. The resulting color depends on grape variety and winemaking style, ranging from pale salmon to deep magenta.