Southern Italy is currently experiencing a winemaking renaissance that is a joy to watch. While the hillsides of Pulgia, Campagnia and Basilicata were among the first in the world to support domesticated vines, many were abandoned in the middle of the 19th century. Ask any American of Italian descent where their family hails from and chances are they will answer with one of the boot’s southern provinces. The crushing poverty that followed the Second World War caused many small southern farmers to make their livings, and their new lives, outside of Italy. Now their old vineyards, that sat fallow for decades, are being rediscovered by pioneers from all over Italy. Gregory Perrucci of Racemi is foremost among them.
Perrucci conceived Racemi to focus on “the research, vinification and commercialization” of Puglia’s “native vineyards” and regional varietals. Perruci is not a négociant nor does he run a cooperative—he has simply joined a number of small farms under his umbrella to promote “the survival of the areas’s winemaking and growing traditions. These growers make so little wine that they wouldn’t be available outside Puglia without Greg’s help. They are the smallest of the small; the most traditional that Southern Italy has to offer.
The Felline vineyards sit in the heart of the historic Manduria region in Puglia, located on the coastal heel of the Italian boot. The area is characterized by a warm growing season and deep red, calcareous bedrock soils. Felline’s older vines date back to the 1940s, when Southern Italy was a hotbed of viticulture, supplying many of their unscrupulous northern neighbors with added body, color and alcohol. Today, the vines that remain produce some of the most complex, concentrated, value driven wines on the market.
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