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Regional profile: Puglia plus the 12 bottles worth looking out for

Italy’s sunshine-filled heel has seen a quality revolution in its winemaking, as the region’s leading producers abandon old-style, jammy reds for elegant and balanced, terroir-focused wines.

The heel of Italy’s boot, Puglia stretches between the Ionian and Adriatic seas, its easternmost point at Otranto almost touching Albania. With its long coastline (commonly measured at 865km) covering approximately 12% of Italy’s as a whole, this region is a prime tourist destination: according to Regione Puglia, in the summer months more than 10 million visitors flock to its awe-inspiring beaches and rocky bays, picturesque white towns and charming masserie (fortified rural houses).

Gastronomy is another source of attraction: with a warm Mediterranean climate and a flat or gently sloping terrain, Puglia’s vast culinary tradition has its roots in the region’s historical focus on agriculture. Popular dishes range from vegetarian recipes such as orecchiette con cime di rapa (ear-shaped pasta with turnip greens) and ciceri e tria (pasta with chickpeas and fried pasta crumbs) to hearty meat dishes such as cheese-stuffed bombette (pork rolls) and some of Italy’s best seafood.

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for Mosca’s 12 excellent Puglian wines

Viticulture in Puglia dates back to before the Phoenician period (20th to 15th centuries BC) and has been prospering ever since. Claiming 91,740ha under vine, which produced 10.8 million hl in 2022 (ISTAT), Puglia ranks third among the Italian regions by planted surface area, and second by total volume produced. Quality, however, has long been uneven: hoards of notoriously ‘jammy’ reds – often used for blending – have always shaped the perception of the region’s wines.

A quality revolution has been slowly taking place over the past 60 years, yet roughly 60% of the production continues to be table wine, while DOC wines often enjoy success in the lower segment of the market, their alcohol-derived heartiness pleasing the crowds.

Mosca’s mixed dozen excellent Puglian wines to try

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