A stunning red that shows a totally different side to winemaking in Puglia that had been seen in a majority of wines over the last decade or so. Balanced, fresh and with a coating pulpy texture that never cloys, this is a wine that will make you look out for any others made form Nero di Troia... Blackberry and bramble fruit with only a touch of spice, this is a sensory wine that is mouthwatering as much as mouth filling. Certainly worthy of Wine of the Year contender for us.
The DOC system in Italy hasn't taken off as successfully as the DOCG one. It has brought about hundreds and thousands of regional appellations that have each a claim to tradition and quality of production. But the policing of these and the awarding has often appeared to be too slack. The DOCG system is under a reign of terror by comparison and quality is almost always of the top drawer. However. sometimes you come across a DOC and one of its exponents gets you all of a muddle and that is precisely the case with this wine and the DOC of Cacc'e Mmitte di Lucera. (Yes, that's the name of the wine region!). Not Chianti, Cacc'e Mmitte di Lucera. Double C, double M, double T.
The town of Lucera is in the north of Puglia and at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, local growers wanted to assure local townspeople and other trader that a consistent supply of wine would be made for them, so as they could enjoy a glass of wine when they wanted to, without worry that the supply would run out. Taking their grapes to the machinery was unfortunately expensive as all machinery was owned by wealthy landowners who wanted to protect their own winemaking interests. In order not to be charged more than the bare minimum for the use of the machinery, farmers had to be quick.
Therefore they put the grapes in and as soon as they had finished pressing in to juice, they took them out. In local dialect, to put is abbreviated to "Mmitte" (from the Italian 'mettere') and to take away is abbreviated to "Cacc'" (from 'staccare' to knock-off, detach, or rip out).
One by one the farmers queued up to the machine and waited their turn to put in and pull out. This is how the phrase came about - the farmers literally Cacc-ed and Mitte-ed their way along, in order to support the local community. Throw it in and rip it out. And repeat; rip it out and throw it in.
The wines quickly became the only wines drunk in the area and when the opportunity to name the region arose in 1976, legend has it, the local leader of the vineyards organisation when asked by the pen-pusher from Rome for a representative wine of the area, he said "dammi un bicchiere di Cacc'e Mmitte" ("give me a glass of rip it out and fill it up!")They had their wine name and weren't letting it go.
Southern Italian wines from Puglia have had a wonderfully modernising impact on the Italian wine industry bringing richer, ripe red wines to the international market at considerably lower prices than customers were expecting to pay. This is Good Thing. However, not everyone wants big, jammy blockbusting reds all the time. This is the basis that brought Alberto Longo's family to begin making their own wines in 2005. They looked for someone to assist in their project to show-off the terroirs and nuance available in Puglia, especially regarding acidity and balance. They hired super winemaker Graziana Grassini who herself had worked for the legendary Giacomo Tachis of 1960s and 70s Supertuscan Tignanello fame.
The philosophy that was bred into her was really an old-school and French-based search for terroir and climats in vineyards and translating these facets into the resultant wines. This seemingly obvious approach was revolutionary in the late 20th Century and it drove an incredible increase in the quality of Tuscan wines in the decades that followed, which is still being seen today. Alberto Longo are simply doing the same in Puglia.
The balance and freshness that they achieve in the wines with a pulpy, juicy yet structured palate is remarkably new in Puglia and at times you'd swear they were made by Burgundian-trained winemakers, such is the elegance and finesse. We look forward to more wines from these chaps. We're officially impressed.
Grape(s): Nero di Troia, Montepulciano, Bombino Bianco
Style: Vibrant, Structured, Medium Full, Fruity, Fresh, Elegant, Complex
Best food matches: Pork, Pizza, Pasta, Lamb, Charcuterie