Vino 2015 held at the Waldorf Astoria was an amazing metaphoric journey into the Italian wine country of the southern provinces of Calabria, Sicilia, Campania, and Puglia. In the master classes introductory information was presented about the products of each of the provinces and then came the tasting of wines offered from various producers. During the master class about wines from Puglia, I encountered some interesting and delicious red wines which I decided to investigate in the walk around tasting.
One selection of wines was from the cooperative Cantina Sociale Di Lizzano. I decided to stop by the table to reinforce what I had tasted which I really enjoyed from Cantine Lizzano. There, I was able to meet in the Italian words of the cooperative, “il nostro fantastico team”: Luca Circelli, the administrator of the cooperative, Giuseppe Masini and Angelo Pinto who is the Enologist and Winemaker. Angelo Pinto knows and understands all things about the process of making their wines and has been ahead of the curve regarding trends in climate and agriculture that are more modernistic in the region. Luca, Giuseppe, and Angelo shared with me that they are looking for a fine distributor to connect with as a partner to get their wines into the hands and onto the tables of the American public. I really enjoy their wines, so I would love for this to happen.
When I go to Puglia and visit Cantine Lizzano, which is in the town of Lizzano in the heart of Salento, Puglia, I can stop in with my friends for a tasting then purchase and bring back their wines. I can also order them online, contacting them on their website, Cantine Lizzano. And I can also Skype Lucacircelli and speak to him directly telling him what I want.
Unfortunately, I cannot go to my retailer and make a pest of myself asking them to order their wines. My retailer, like every average retaile,r is not in the fine wines world class category and they are mostly OLD SCHOOL. They deal in American product with wineries from the West Coast or France and some from Chile or Australia which have been over-hyped for the price. This also happens if I go to some fine wine shops in NYC. If the distribution is not yet set up, then the wine shops don’t know what phenomenal Italian wines are out there. However, it is only a matter of time, education is spreading the information. Eventually, if the wines are great, they will find distributors.
Americans’ favorite restaurants are Italian, and increasingly their favorite wine offerings will be from the list emphasizing a variety of Italian wines. Italian pairings of food and wines are ancient, ineffable, and lasting unities. That is one reason why tourists love to go to Italy. Italians know how to celebrate what is beautiful and long lasting in their culture. They understand what is a healthful lifestyle. As a part of a gracious style of living, they emphasize leisure and the enjoyment of great cuisine and wonderful wines that enhance the flavors of their delicious meals. The more Americans embrace healthy eating, lifestyles, and unprocessed food, the more they will see the imperative about preparing enjoyable meals enhanced with wine. As Italians say if someone has had too much to drink, “He hasn’t had enough to eat.”
So for a company like Cantine Lizzano, it is only a matter of time before they are working hand in glove with fine distributors. In 1989 the company received the Controlled Designation of Origin label (DOC). Through the years the cooperative has grown and progressed to become one of the largest and most modern of the cooperatives of in Southern Italy. It has more than 400 members and 500 hectares of vineyards with local grape varieties (Primitivo, Negroamaro, Malvasia, Moscato), and international grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot, and Cabernet). What I was really thrilled to discover as I checked out their website was that the cooperative is the only one in Italy that is managed by a woman. Rita Macripò is solid in her beliefs and determination to carry out the principle values of the company with the same enthusiasm as the previous founder.
Cantine Lizzano’s red wines that I sampled go beautifully with sumptuous meals, savory meats, pastas, or even with appetizers, Grana Padano or other pungent tasting and fabulous cheeses and salumi. If your like reds bold and robust, their offerings cover that territory. These were two wines that I enjoyed. The third I had at the Apuglia Networking Meeting and Dinner, (see photo above). But on their website they offer an incredible range of whites, reds and roses, and they have lovely tastings if you are in Puglia and can make the trip to Lizzano.
The NegroamaroLizzano DOP Manorossa to the left has an intense ruby red colour with purple reflections. It is wide and complex to the nose, fruity with a scent of black cherry and soft fruit with notes of spices. It is a full-bodied wine, soft and balanced, rich in fine tannins with a pleasantly long lasting finish.
The Macchia Primitivo Di Manduria DOP to the right has a ruby red colour enriched with garnet reflections and a generous perfume which recalls ripe plums, black cherry, dried fruits and soft notes of vanilla. The wine has a velvety texture which is softened by the warmth of the primitivo grape. And it finishes with notes of a persistent sweetness.
Angelo Pinto, Giuseppe Masini, and Luca Circelli graciously hosted Cantine Lizzano at Vino 2015. The cooperative has been keeping them busy as they travel to other wine events globally. They were in New York in February, then they went to Düsseldorf, and they will be finishing up with events at Vinitaly 2015 in Verona at Operawine (#vinitaly, #veronaeventi). As their Facebook page states, they are wonderful world travelers and ambassadors for the company. Also, they are really affable and nice guys.
Apulia or Puglia as we know it in English is an amazing place to visit because of its uniqueness. The architecture of the towns, the cliffs, and sandy beaches along the coast are beautiful as is the other terrain where the farming countryside and olive groves are plentiful. Puglia produces 40% of Italy’s olive oil.
Also, when I think of Puglia, I think of the unusual Trulli of Alberobero that you might choose to stay in if the idea suits you. The trulli are fascinating structures inside and outside, and cooler in the summer. They are protected by UNESCO so you can’t tear them down; they can only be refurbished. Some of the families that had them built in the golden age of trulli in the 19th century during its final decades when wine growing was on the rise still live in them today. And, of course, some date back much older. That is miraculous, considering that they are a mystery of building and solid and sturdy.
More so in this area of Italy than in Tuscany or Torino, be warned. If you are visiting Puglia in the height of the summer, you will understand why a siesta is necessary in the afternoon rather than strenuous hiking or bicycling. But after your sleep, a wine tasting at the Cantine Lizzano would just hit the spot.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1465405887]