Puglia, the long and narrow “boot” of Italy, with over 800 km of coastline, is well-known for its beautiful scenery and for its olive oil, the region being responsible for 40% of Italy’s total production! It is also known for big and bold red wines from the Primitivo grape (aka Zinfandel in North America). But there is another story in Puglia, one that is lesser-known outside of Italy – a story about fascinating indigenous grapes and exceptional terroir, a story that the Perrone Capano family has been telling for many generations.
Azienda Santa Lucia has been in the Perrone Capano family since 1628, with vineyards in production since 1849. The small estate is in the Castel del Monte DOC, a region with a hot and dry Mediterranean climate. Situated just 15km from the coast, however, vineyards at 300m of elevation are cooled by breezes from the Adriatic Sea, and indigenous grapes Fiano and Nero di Troia thrive in fertile soils. This sublime terroir forms the essence of balance – a perfect mix of heat for ripe fruit, cooling winds for freshness and limestone-rich soils for complexity translates into wines that have incredible breadth and depth, energy and structure.
Vineyards are farmed organically and biodynamically and each varietal is treated differently to ensure the ideal growing conditions. With this careful management, Fiano – an ancient grape dating back to the Roman Empire – with naturally low yields and great acidity, shows ripe tropical fruit and rich texture balanced by nervy minerality. Nero di Troia, a beautifully complex grape, reveals its varietal characteristics of florality, spice and earth in an elegantly structured frame.
The current generation, Roberto Perrone Capano, has been at the helm since 1980. In 2015, the brilliant winemaker Emilia Tartaglione joined Santa Lucia, adding another exciting chapter in this never-ending story of great wines.
Santa Lucia 2021 ‘Gazza Ladra’ Fiano, Castel del Monte
Retail: $29.95 / btl (6btl/cs)
Santa Lucia 2019 ‘il Melograno’ Nero di Troia, Castel del Monte
Retail: $29.95 / btl
Click HERE to order!
93 points – Luca Maroni
Grapes were harvested in early September and crushed and fermented in stainless steel. The wine was aged for six months in concrete tanks before bottling. Exotic aromas of yellow plum, white flower, lime jam, ripe citrus fruits and fresh herbs. Slightly vegetal in the mouth, with brisk acidity to lift the ripe citrus, lychee and herb flavours. Lingering saline minerality on the finish.
95 points – Luca Maroni
Made from 100% Nero di Troia grapes harvested in the first half of October. Fermentation took place in temperature controlled rotating stainless steel tanks. The wine was aged for 12 months in 35 hL Slovenian oak followed by 12 months in neutral tanks and a further six months in bottle before release. A heady bouquet of crushed raspberries, cedar shavings and balsamic spice on the nose. Silky and fruit-forward, with ripe red and blue berries balanced by juicy acidity and a subtle tannic frame.
About Santa Lucia
Puglia is a much-maligned region. This is the third-largest wine producing area in Italy after Veneto and Emilia-Romagna, and still mostly large co-ops. It’s a major supplier of “cutting-wine” for other regions… insert a snide comment on $30 Amarone here.
But for all of the berating this region receives, and in stark contrast to its mega-producers, some tiny jewels of estate wineries exist here. The Perrone Capano family has owned Azienda Santa Lucia since 1628, with vineyard records dating back to 1849. They sit a mere 15km from the coast at 300m in elevation; total annual production is just shy of 50,000 bottles from 14 hectares (just under 37 acres) of vineyards. At Santa Lucia, in the Castel del Monte DOC, farming and production methods are organic with biodynamic practices in the vineyards – meticulous tending includes trellising optimized for each variety, soil and exposure to the remarkable daylight the region receives.
The family has grown indigenous varieties through its whole existence, and Nero di Troia, the most interesting indigenous variety in this appellation, is the signature wine of Santa Lucia. Once vinified, it’s a unique, age-worthy wine, with no reference points in other Italian regions – Santa Lucia produces the benchmark versions, absolutely worth investigating. Fiano, Bombino Nero, and Aleatico (for an exciting sweet wine) are also grown. And while the labels don’t clearly indicate this, all of their wines are single-vineyard bottlings from estate vineyards in the Castel del Monte DOC. Our current favourite, ‘Il Melograno’ comes from the Vigna del Melograno.
Roberto Perrone Capano has been responsible for the estate since 1980. In 2015 he lured a dynamic young winemaker to the team. Emilia Tartaglione’s first task was bottling the 2013 vintage, and she has already brought increased elegance and refinement to the wines. These are characterful, highly enjoyable wines with impressive pedigree and capacity to evolve over time – translation: you really should try them.
Fun fact: Castel del Monte DOC is named for the nearby 13th Century citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site — which you may have seen Sean Connery dashing around in The Name of the Rose. It’s also on the Italian edition 1-Euro-cent coin.
NEW! Order online at TheVineAgency.ca.