Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cantina Albea – A Friendly and Delicious Wine Tourism Experience in Puglia

(May 2016) On the afternoon of our first day in Puglia, we were scheduled to visit Cantina Albea  - a small winery located in the town of Alberobello, and just a short walk from our hotel. We were greeted by Tommaso Marangi, who has a contagious smile and exhibits much passion for wine and Puglia. He gave us a tour of their fascinating museum, explained the wine making process, and then allowed us to taste several wines.

About Cantina Albea Winery

Located close to the Locorotondo DOC, Cantina Albea focuses on grape varietals from this region, such as Verdeca and Bianco d’ Alessano, but also purchases other grapes from nearby areas, such as Fiano and Nero de Troia. They own 52 hectares of vineyards and produce around 20,000 cases annually.  Due to their location in a prime tourist town, they receive anywhere from 15,000 to 20,000 visitors per year, and therefore are able to sell 30% of production direct to consumers (DTC).

Our Tasting in the Cellars of Cantina Albea

Museum and Gas Station Wine Pump at Cantina Albea

Tommaso gave us a tour of their fascinating wine museum, with an excellent explanation of Puglia wines and the surrounding regions, as well as an exhibit of old and new winemaking equipment.

We were mesmerized by the gas station style wine pumps, which allow customers to “pump” their own bulk wine from a gas station style hose into a recyclable plastic wine container (See photo). This is not something we see in the US, but my students were excited about trying to import the custom.

Using "gas station style hose" to fill wine jug

Tasting of Four Cantina Albea Wines

With his sommelier training, Tommaso did an excellent job in presenting four wines and explaining with much enthusiasm and waving of arms, the special attributes of the wine.  We enjoyed his presentation while seated in the wine cellar at long tables with complementary local snacks.  The wines were all well made and included:

Tommaso Presenting the Wines of Cantina Albea

2014 Petrarosa Special Cuvee Rose of Primitivo – an easy drinking rose with strawberry jam notes, having spent six hours on the skin.  In the US, we would have called this a “white zinfandel” in the past.  However, since white zin is no longer selling well, labeling it a “rose” makes more economic sense.

2015 Il Selva DOC Locorotondo – a white wine made with 60% Verdeca, 35% Bianco d’ Alessano, and 5% Fiano.  Delightful floral nose, light to medium body, with medium-high acid. Very refreshing with mineral notes

2013 Terre del Sole Primitivo – a cheerful Primitivo with classic jammy notes, spice and an earthy after taste.  Approachable with moderate tannins

**2011 Lui 100% Nero de Troia – this was one of my favorite wines on the complete 12 day trip to Southern Italy.  Made of 100% Nero de Troia, it opened with blackberry and soft herb notes, then caressed the palate with velvety tannins and a long elegant finish.  Aged 8 months in oak and 7 in bottle before release.  Won multiple awards.  A grape we rarely see in the US, Nero de Troia, meaning “black of Troy,” was apparently brought from Homer’s ancient city of Troy (now in Albania) to the Puglia region of Italy.

Another reason to visit the enchanting village of Alberobello is the opportunity to visit the friendly and delicious cellars of Cantina Albea.

Having Fun in the Cantina Albea Museum

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