This week we had the pleasure of visiting Cantine San Giorgio to sample some of their fantastic regional wines under the Feudo di Santa Croce label. We arrived at the beautiful masseria, surrounded by typical Puglian countryside of olive groves and vineyards, and met our hosts Claudio and Serena. They explained some of the history of the estate as we wandered around the masseria and vineyards and shared some of their excitement about the rise of Puglian wine in recent years and its future.
Following the tour, we retired to the tasting room where a fine spread of local cured meats and cheeses awaited us – along with a selection of their wines made from indigenous Puglian grape varieties. First up was 2015 Alea – a crisp, fresh, straw coloured Malvasia Bianca that tasted of soft summer fruits with a slightly nutty finish. This was followed by 2014 Malnera – a rich, ruby red blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera grapes (70-30 for this vintage although the exact proportions fluctuate each year) that packed a powerful aroma and contained a big hit of red fruit with a nice peppercorn undercurrent. Third on the list was a 2014 Megale – an absolutely amazingly deep red coloured Negroamaro with an aroma that was a bit like opening a packet of Bassett’s Allsorts whilst making plum jam in a coffee shop (not that I have done that very often – but if I did this is what it would smell of!). Our penultimate wine was a 2013 Byzantium – a deep, ruby red Primitivo di Manduria that tasted of forest fruits and cherry licquer. We finished with a 2013 Celebration LXXIV (74 for those struggling with Roman numerals in honour of the year when Primitivo was awarded its DOP status) – another Primitivo di Manduria but harvested from slightly older vines than the previous Byzantium, as a result of which the alcohol content was slightly higher and the fruits slightly more jammy in flavour. This wine has been included in Wine Spectator magazine’s Top 100 Wines (globally) in both 2014 and 2015 – so here is hoping that the hat-trick is completed this year!!
What a collection of wines! All were excellent and showcased just how unique, interesting and delicious the local grape varieties are – they just tasted of long, hot Puglian summers! We had a long discussion / argument over our favourite – in the end Celebration LXXIV did win, just ahead of Malnera and Megale. However, the fact that all 5 wines got at least an 8/10 rating is an incredible achievement and we’d be more than happy to sit down with a bottle of any of them!
Absolutely fantastic trip – can’t wait for an excuse to go back and try them all again! Thanks again to Claudio and Serena for hosting us and sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm.