Friday, September 24, 2010

What a Heel!

It’s quite a week for the Wines of Puglia here in Ottawa (plus Toronto and Montreal). And it’s not over yet.

Events have been cascading since the Kick-Off Seminar on Tuesday afternoon with workshops and dinners featuring individual winemakers from Puglia. And the wines and food of Puglia are the focus at many of the restaurants that are celebrating Ottawa’s La Vendemmia, the harvest festival. It’s all been organized by Antonio Mauriello and the hard-working folks at his DiVino Wine Studio.

What’s Puglia? The heel of the Italian boot, it has a wonderful climate that generates high yields for almost any crop they choose to plant. Not surprisingly, with those high yields, Puglia’s wine reputation, for a long time, was for rather ordinary bulk wines. Locals often shipped these wines elsewhere for blending into wines from other regions to add some weight (alcohol). But in the last few years, attention has shifted from quantity to quality, as it has for other southern European wine regions. Good news for us!

Even better news, the winemakers in Puglia focus more and more on native grapes like Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Nero di Troia (although Cabernet and Chardonnay do have a foothold).

In addition to a primer on the history, geography, and food of Puglia …it’s the capital of Italian organic produce…it leads in Italian olive oil production…Tuesday’s Kick-Off Seminar featured a tasting of wines from 11 different producers, led by Ian D’Agata. (Wine Out Loud has a great description of the seminar.) Besides being a man who obviously knows his wines, Ian is just one more example of how the wine universe pulls people into its orbit, as he’s also holds a degree in medicine and is a paediatric gastroenterologist.

Of the 11 wines tasted at the seminar (1 white...made from Bombino Bianco, 1 rosé, 10 reds), I came away most impressed with the wines made from Nero di Troia and Negroamaro. These wines offered more in the flavour profile than just fruit, showing some intriguing herbal and spice notes, often with an attractive bitterness on the aftertaste. Great food-matching wines.

There are still some events to take in this weekend, so if you’re at loose ends, get out and enjoy some Wines of Puglia on Preston Street.

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