The sharp stiletto to Italy’s thigh-high boot, Puglia is often overlooked as a wine-producing region. Yet, this sun-soaked area boasts an ideal environment that makes it the second-largest producer of wine grapes in the country (behind Veneto) and a main grower for olive oil production.

Of course, with wine, quantity and quality walk a fine line. In the past, Puglia was marred by bulk grape-juice production used to bolster blends elsewhere. However, with technological advancements, a focus on cutting yields and a renewed interest in local varieties, Puglia is on the rise. It’s even digging its heel into the fine wine category.

In the 1980s and early ’90s, the region was swept up in the international grape craze and planted vast amounts of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and others. Producers have since shifted toward indigenous grape varieties that had long flourished in the area. Here are the main varieties to watch.

Negroamaro

This red grape is found on the Salento peninsula. It’s the principal grape in the well-known Salice Salentino Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and widely used in the broader Salento Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). Despite its ominous-sounding name, Negroamaro produces savory, well-mannered reds that offer a wealth of dark berry flavors and earthy, gamy notes, like you’ll find in Cosimo Taurino’s Notarpanaro.

It takes on a fresher profile in many of the region’s bold rosatos, a style of rosé. Cantele’s Rosato…

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