Exploring the Best Wines of Puglia, Italy

Also known by its English designation Apulia, Puglia stands apart from other Italian wine regions. While areas such as Tuscany and Sicily are famed for indigenous grapes or unique blends, Puglia is popular as both a producer of wine, table grapes, and olive oil.

Does that mean the wines of Puglia are of a lesser standard? Far from it. Many wine drinkers today are fascinated by this underrated region’s commitment to various areas of wine production.

You’ll find a medley of table grapes, popular Italian wine grapes, and plenty of olives. In fact, Puglia is responsible for nearly half of the country’s olive oil production!

Are you curious about the wines of Puglia, Italy? We’ve got the list for you. Keep reading to learn more about this underrepresented Italian wine region, their leading wineries, and various wines you can try.

A Quick Look at Puglia

look at puglia

Much like the rest of Italy, Puglia’s history is one of occupation and change. Shuffling through Greek colonization and pirate invasions, this area now stands as an official region of Italy.

Today Puglia carves out its reputation as a reliable source of agricultural products, including (but not limited to) tomatoes, table grapes, cabbage, fennel, and olive oil. Their olive oil production is so famed, that their products have won prestigious international awards.

Puglia is one of the largest wine regions in Italy but produces some of the smallest volumes of wine. However, its terroir and climate are perfectly suited to the production of delightful reds and whites.

What Wine is Puglia Famous For?

Puglia wines embody many classic Italian wine grapes such as Primitivo and Sangiovese. You’ll also find the following red and white wines produced in this region:

  • Susumaniello
  • Montepulciano
  • Nero di Troia

What are Table Grapes?

Table grapes are any grape produced for immediate consumption, rather than for recipes such as wine or jam. You can often spot table grapes at a distance for their large size, bright coloration, and lack of seeds.

Wine grapes tend to be more sugary and acidic to create a wider medley of flavors in the final bottle. On the other hand, table grapes are milder in flavor. Puglia table grapes are often made with the following varieties:

  • Red Globe
  • Victoria
  • Regina

What is Salice Salento?

Salice Salento is an Italian red wine crafted mostly from Negroamaro grapes.

The Subregions of Puglia

subregions of puglia

Puglia is home to several subregions, all of which have their own range of official government registers such as DOC or DOCG. These labels are essential to know when you purchase bottles from specific origins so you know you’re getting the real deal.

High Murgia

Starting off the list of Puglian wine regions is High Murgia, nestled in southern Italy right next to Brindisi and Taranto (both provinces we’ll explore more below).

This dry and hilly wine region is best known for Uva di Troia and Primitivo production.

Low Murgia

To contrast High Murgia, Low Murgia is more lush and green. This feature is due to the increased proximity to the ocean, making way for higher volumes of both wine grape and olive tree plantings.

Primitivo and Sangiovese are popular wines from this area, though you can also find Nero di Troia.

Foggia

This hot, dry subregion is located right in the middle of Puglia. Like the rest of the region, Foggia depends heavily on agriculture to stimulate its economy.

Nero di Troia is the most commonly produced grape variety here.

Taranto

This scenic coastal city doubles as a wine region, an increasingly popular destination for thirsty travelers. Expect to encounter a medley of red wines in Taranto crafted by several passionate family-owned wineries.

Brindisi

Last but not least, we have the harbor city of Brindisi. This region produces high volumes of Negroamaro, as well as red blends that focus on indigenous Italian grapes.

The Notable Wines of Puglia

notable wines of puglia
Image: Dauno settantatre

Red wine reigns supreme in Puglia, though white wines are produced occasionally due to increasing demand.

Susumaniello

This old grape variety is only grown in Puglia, believed to have originated in the region as an offshoot of Sangiovese.

Susumaniello boasts a wealth of powerful, almost contradictory flavors. This wine can bear dulcet dark chocolate and plum flavors, but just as soon have tangy, sharp red fruit notes.

Primitivo

Better known as Zinfandel by English speakers, Primitivo is a must-try Italian wine grape for its robust flavors and great aging potential.

While mostly fruit-forward, Primitivo tends to be more smoky and leathery due to its higher tannin count.

Bombino Nero

This bold, dark-skinned red wine grape is one of the best-known indigenous Italian grape varieties. While Bombino Nero is often produced for casual table wines, you can find more aged versions with a little digging.

Bombino Nero is a very fruit-forward wine, leaning toward zesty red currants, strawberries, and raspberries.

Bombino Bianco

One of the few white wine grapes grown in Puglia is Bombino Bianco. You can easily find this wine made in both still and sparkling varieties.

Expect a range of mild and somewhat neutral flavor notes such as citrus, yellow apple, and light floral notes.

Verdeca

Despite Puglia being best known for still reds, Verdeca is a beloved white wine grape that sees most of its production in this region. Wine drinkers on the prowl for casual sipping wines will adore the mellow, smooth Verdeca grape.

Wineries of Puglia

With an impressive twenty-nine DOC and four DOCG regions, Puglia has no shortage of wineries to fall in love with. We picked the following for their impressive history and highly characteristic Puglian portfolio.

Masseria Li Veli

The Masseria Li Veli estate has gone through many changes since its establishment in the 19th century. Shifting hands between investors and families with big dreams, this winery now stands apart for its incredible devotion to Puglian wine production.

The Masseria Li Veli wine portfolio is split into several categories: Classicos, Askos, and Cru & Cuveé. Primitivo and Negroamaro are well-represented here, right alongside lesser-known varieties like Verdeca.

They also sell spirits such as Grappa, an Italian pomace brandy crafted from the leftover materials in the winemaking process.

L’Acropoli di Puglia

This winery is steeped in history, stretching back five hardworking generations of wine growers and olive oil farmers. Unlike more modern wineries, L’Acropli di Puglia still uses ancient stone mills to create their portfolio.

Primitivo, Salento, and Susumaniello are at the forefront of their wine portfolio, starting you off with some of the best-known red wines of the Puglia region. Alongside a few white and rosè wines you can also nab some of the best olive oil on the market.

Their olive oil comes in a dazzling variety of different olive types, pressing methods, and refining processes. Wine fans who love to cook should check out L’Acropoli’s portfolio for their next dinner venture.

I Pastini

Who says the old has to be tossed out for the new? I Pastini embraces both tradition and modern technology in the construction of their winery, putting extra emphasis on the protection of old grapevines.

The result is a portfolio that’s as diverse as it is exemplary. Some of I Pastini’s grapevines have been around for years, carefully nurtured to retain their quality and character.

You’ll enjoy a wide range of Italian standards like Verdeca, Susumaniello, and Primitivo. This winery is so dedicated to preserving the unique qualities of each vine, they have an initiative called ‘Adopt A Vineyard’.

For a one-time fee, you’ll be able to contribute to the cultivation and protection of a row of grapes. For your contribution, you’ll be gifted a package of wine and a wine tour from that very row once the grapes are processed.

Best Wines of Puglia, Italy

Best Wines of Puglia

Puglian wines are truly a class all their own. This designation holds many classic Italian characteristics such as a preference for still reds and robust flavors, but a few unique qualities, too.

MLV Salento IGT Primitivo

We’re starting off our list of Puglian wine suggestions with Masseria Li Veli’s traditionally made Primitivo. Made with a small sliver of Cabernet Sauvignon, this vintage is carefully aged in oak to bring out its more refined side.

This bottle boasts ripe fruit and savory notes, offering a silky soft mouthfeel that will make your next dinner sing. Robust red wines often go well with beef or mushroom-based dishes.

Garrisa Salento IGT Susumaniello

Produced in the Salento region of Puglia, Masseria Li Veli produces another knockout red wine you’ll be eager to revisit again. This bottle is crafted with Susumaniello grapes, originating in Puglia itself.

Expect a blend of cherry and berries, fantastic for cheese or potato-based dishes.

I Pastini Rosé Wine Susumaniello Valle D’Itria PGI

Incredibly balanced and boasting a stunning rosy coloration, I Pastini’s Susumanillo-based rosé is a must-try if you’re a fan of blush wines.

Low on bitterness and acidity, this wine goes down smooth and pairs with just about anything.

L’Acropoli Primitivo Wine of Manduria DOP

l'acropoli primitivo wine
Image: i tipici di puglia associazione culturale

Try another side of Primitivo with this sweet, but not too sugary bottle. While you’ll still get plenty of robust dark fruit and rich tannins, this bottle hints at baking spices on both the nose and palate.

Consider pairing this dish with just about anything grilled. The smokiness from your meal will contrast nicely with the faint, earthy sweetness of your glass. A half-hour of decanting prior will also soften any lingering astringency from the bottle.

L’Acropoli Martina Franca White Wine DOP

Blended with Verdeca and Bianco, this budget-conscious bottle is an easy sipping wine for just about any occasion. Save it for a movie night or pair it with your next pasta dinner: whatever works!

Verdeca is an airy and herbal wine, often hinting at subtle tropical fruit without becoming overbearingly sweet.

Bianco wine tends to lean more floral, so pair this bottle with easy foods such as cheese or salads to keep the flavor at the forefront.

Vino Bianco Minutolo Valle D’Itria IGP

Rethink Italian white wines with this vivid bottle. Minutolo is one of the white wines most associated with Puglia and for good reason: these grapes are a powerful showcase of why wine is such a subtle craft.

With an intensely floral bouquet mixed with both mineral and tropical fruit notes, this complex bottle is best saved for a truly special occasion.

D’Amati Red Blend

D'Amati Red Blend

If you’re looking for a low-pressure Puglia wine you can pull out for any occasion, this D’Amati Red Blend has your name on it. The low price is no indication of its quality, providing you with a lusciously full-bodied experience.

This fruit-forward wine leans toward rummy, dark fruit alongside an herbal finish. Rare steak, mushroom burgers, and ravioli would all pair wonderfully with this lip-smacking vintage.

Marchese Di Borgosole Rosé Puglia IGT

This rosé comes at a great price, offering you a slightly unique spin on classic blush wine. This crisp bottle leans away from traditional notes of strawberry or melon, instead favoring a floral airiness well suited to hotter days.

Pop open this bottle for easy sipping or pair it with a delicate dish of pasta salad. Your choice!

Why You Should Try The Wines of Puglia, Italy

Puglian wines may not have the same reputation as Tuscany and Sicily, but they don’t have to. This smaller wine region is content to enjoy its own flavor of quaint, idyllic Italian charm.

Puglian wines often use indigenous Italian grapes like Primitivo and Verdeca. Susumanillo is a red grape variety believed to have originated in Puglia, often used as both single origins and rosé varieties.

Despite creating stellar wines, Puglia is best known for their famous olive oil industry. Wine fans who love to sip quality vintages and cook delicious meals will adore this wine region.

Further Reading