Nero di Troia

By Paul Caputo

Nero di Troia is Puglia’s third most planted red grape variety. It generally grows in the area north of Bari and south of Foggia, with the variety’s key heartland around the town of Castel del Monte. Historically, producers have blended it with Montepulciano (and less frequently Primitivo or Negroamaro) in an attempt to curb some of the variety’s natural astringency. Rivera, whose ‘Il Falcone’ is known as the bench mark Nero di Troia wine, add 30% of Montepulciano.

Increasingly though we are seeing mono varietal examples and in general the wines are improving. Producers are reducing yields in the vineyard, understanding how to better manage canopies to obtain optimal ripeness and aiming for softer extractions to eliminate bitterness. When done well, Nero di Troia wines take on rich cherry fruit but maintain a backbone of tannin and structure. With age the wines develop intriguing tertiary notes of balsam, herb and carob.

The challenge in Puglia’s hot climate is to create a wine with freshness and balance and too often we see red wines that have excessive alcohol levels, stewed fruit and lack acidity.