You will find the tiny winery called Pietraventosa (www.pietraventosa.it) just outside the town of Gioia del Colle. The name, Pietraventosa, translates as windy rock which accurately reflects its location. Run by Marianna and her husband, they produce just 30,000 bottles of wine from 5.5 hectares, though this will increase when the newly planted 2 hectares of Primitivo vines bear fruit. Their production is wholly organic.
They started the business in 2003, producing their first bottles of wine in 2005. Primitivo is a native vine to Puglia and is grown mainly at lower levels where it produces wines with a big punch and alcohol levels up to 16% – think Mike Tyson on steroids – but Marianna sets out to do something very different; her wines are much more sophisticated, more elegant. At 1100 feet above sea level, the vines here are growing on very rocky soil and the roots have an heroic struggle to find their way through the limestone to find the moisture underneath; they have to be tough.
The first wine we tried was Allegoria 2018, a DOC made with 100% Primitivo. The wine spends nine months in stainless steel before being bottled. The lack of time in oak allows the essence of the grapes to come through clearly. With a deep colour, on the nose there is a bouquet of cherry jam with hints of cinnamon and cloves. On the palate, it is dry and acidic but the tannins are pleasantly light with hints of blood orange. At 13.5% it is well balanced and will pair with food with milder flavours like mushroom risotto.
The second wine we tasted was a 2017 Ossimoro. The translation is oxymoron and the label reflects this with an angel and a devil toasting each other with their glasses of wine! The reason for this name becomes clear when you discover that it is a blend of two contrasting grapes, indigenous Primitivo and Aglianico from neighbouring Campania. Half of the wine spends 12 months maturing in oak whilst the other half remains in stainless steel. The bouquet is complex, tobacco, leather, cardamom and perhaps a hint of liquorice. On the palate there are blackberries and hints of raspberry and then, at the end, the tannins from the Aglianico come in as a fitting finale to this tour de force of the blender’s art. This should pair well with stronger favours like lamb.
The final wine we tasted was the 2015 Riserva. What a delight! It is made from grapes from a small 50-year-old vineyard that Marianna and her husband acquired some years ago. After three to five months in stainless steel it matures for another 18 in oak and then at least 12 in bottle. On the nose there is the flavour of smoke from red meat grilling on a barbecue, mixed with bitter cherries. If that sounds odd don’t worry – it’s just fabulous. On the palate ripe plums explode in the mouth and the structure is excellent as is the finish. A wine to savour.
Marianna and her husband produce other magnificent wines including a splendid rose which has been winning awards since 2012. If you find yourself in Puglia, make the effort to visit and you will not be disappointed, Marianna speaks excellent English and will only be too happy to introduce you to the vines and her wines but you should phone or email first for an appointment. If you cannot wait, you can order online.