In the Primitivo country
Our next stop in Primitivo country was Varvaglione Vigne e Vini, a large winery based in Leporano in the Salento area of the Puglian peninsula. Anna met us at the winery and we promptly started our tour with her jumping onto the bus with us! Their acreage is spread out around the region, some and is owned by them, other is leased. Anna guided our driver to a nearby Masseria. While it is a private residence, the owners have agreed to lease the land to Varvaglione family which owns Vigni e Vini.
There is a very sophisticated system for grape testing right in the field. With the help of a SIM card and a technician, a special machine can analyse grape samples for various qualities and send pertinent information directly back to the in-house laboratory at the winery. This is very useful as they have many properties scattered around the region. Upon returning to the winery we toured their production facility and cellars. This is no small operation! They produce approximately 1 million bottles per year and export around the world. Not only do they press, ferment and cellar their wines in this facility but they also have a bottling line.
After the tour we were then treated to a wonderful lunch in a special room with a view of the barriques. With lunch we sampled 5 of their products, 3 of which are part of their “12.5” line which reflects the alcohol content. This line is designed to target younger wine drinkers. These are fresh, lighter bodied wines meant for every day consumption. The white we sampled was Malvasia di Salento, an ideal pairing for fish and cheeses or as an aperitif, then we sampled the 12.5 Primitivo del Salento IGP which had dark fruits and smoky notes on the nose but not too full on the palate. Next up was the Negro Amaro del Salento followed by Passione, 100% Primitivo that had aged 6 months in new French oak. Now this one had presence! Full bodied and dry this one had a palate and nose of dark fruit and raisins with a good acidity as a balance. Finally, we enjoyed the Papale – their signature wine. This one is 100% Primitivo harvested by hand from old vines. Leather, chocolate, spice and dark stewed fruit came to the fore, and its finish was nice and long. Now of course we were sampling these while we were enjoying a delicious lunch of typical local Pugliese products and dishes such as orecchiette, mozzarella, polpette (meatballs) and so much more. Naturally we finished with a decadent selection of desserts and local seasonal fruit. We never go hungry!