By Paul Caputo

Negroamaro is planted widely across Puglia, the sun scorched, heel-shaped region located in the South of Italy. It produces deep coloured, full bodied red wines that offer plenty of tannin, good levels of natural acidity and a fruit profile tending towards plum and prune. Negroamaro wines also seem to impart an earthy characteristic but the reality is that styles and standards of its cultivation and production mean Negroamaro is not an easy variety to pin down.

Almost certainly of Greek origin, Negroamaro is thought to be named after its propensity to give very dark coloured wines. One theory, which has certainly taken root amongst producers in the Salento area of Puglia where the variety grows prominently, suggests Negro, meaning black in Latin, and Maru or Mavro meaning black in Greek, has given the grape its current identity.

On international markets Negroamaro is a relatively new force. For many years it held a rather ignominious reputation, being seen (incorrectly) as a blending component in a plethora of obscure DOCs, or even more unfortunately as second fiddle to the widely exported Primitivo. Recently though there has been a strong reversal in the way Negroamaro is viewed. Many quality focussed producers, particularly in the Salento which covers the province of Lecce and parts of Brindisi, are showcasing the variety for its undoubted potential to make excellent wines.