Li Veli features little-known native grape varieties of Puglia in its Askos line. With just 125 acres (50 ha) in all of Italy, Susumaniello certainly fits in that category. Li Veli's varietal Susumaniellos are a rare opportunity to taste this ancient grape variety that is just starting to garner attention.
In 1999 the Falvo family, with over 40 years of experience in the wine business, purchased and renovated the property to give birth to an ambitious project in Apulia, a region with a long vine-growing tradition.
Masseria Li Veli is located on an ancient Messapian site dominating the fertile and sunny Salento plain. It was founded by the Marquis Antonio de Viti de Marco (1858-1943), an internationally known Italian economist and university professor, Radical Party Deputy of the Reign of Italy, whose ambitious project was to transform the Masseria into a model cellar for the entire South. Today the beautifully restored Masseria covers an area of 33.000 sqm, 3750 of which include offices, a reception area, vinification, storage and ageing cellars.
Masseria Li Veli produces quintessentially Puglian wines from mostly native grape varieties. The Li Veli estate comprises 85 acres of vineyards around the masseria planted with the well-known Puglian grape varieties Negroamaro and Primitivo, as well as with several less familiar local native grape varieties such as Susumaniello, Verdeca, and Minutolo. The vineyards use an ancient form of vine training: bush-trained(albarello) vines in a hexagonal configuration (known as the settonce system). Li Veli uses this type of training because they feel it allows high planting density, maximum exposure of foliage to the sun, good air circulation, maximum space for roots, and ease of cultivation.
All the grapes of Li Veli's estate vineyards are produced according to sustainable methods. There are two line from Li Veli, the main line includes reds wines made from Negroamaro, Primitivo, including a Rosato and a Fiano based white wine. The Askos line features wines made from distinctly Puglian grape varieties: Malvasia Nera di Lecce, Primitivo, Susumaniello, and Verdeca.
Production is overseen by one of Italy's most respected consulting winemakers, Roberto Cotarella.
Well-suited to the production of concentrated, fruity and spicy red varieties, Puglia is one of Italy’s warmest, most southerly regions. Its entire eastern side is one long coastline bordering the Adriatic Sea. About half way down, the region becomes the Salento Peninsula. This peninsula, bordered by water on three sides, receives moist, nighttime, sea breezes that bring a welcome cooling effect to the region, where little rain creates a challenging environment for its vines. In fact, the region is named for the Italian expression, “a pluvia,” meaning “lack of rain.”
Puglia’s Mediterranean climate and iron-rich, calcareous soils support the indigenous Primitivo, Negroamaro and Nero di Troia. Primitivo produces an inky, spicy, brambly and ripe red wine whose best expression comes from Manduria. Nero di Troia produces tannic, rustic reds from Castel del Monte DOC while Negroamaro, typically blended with Malvasia nera, plays a large part in may blends made throughout the peninsula.
Puglia produces a small amount of white wines as well, predominantly made of the fruity, Trebbiano Toscano, or light, Bombino bianco grapes.
Beyond the usual suspects, there are hundreds of red grape varieties grown throughout the world. Some are indigenous specialties capable of producing excellent single varietal wines, while others are better suited for use as blending grapes. Each has its own distinct viticultural characteristics, as well as aroma and flavor profiles, offering much to be discovered by the curious wine lover. In particular, Portugal and Italy are known for having a multitude of unique varieties but they can really be found in any region.