Claudio Quarta is a man with a vision. Having successfully floated and exited his bio-tech company he returned from the US to settle in Como and then Puglia, where he turned his attention to wine, his big passion. Owning two other wineries in the South of Italy, Cantina Moros is his most focussed project, producing less than 10,000 bottles a year of Salice Salentino from a vineyard on the edge of Guagnano.
His philosophy of “one vineyard, one winery, one wine” not only encapsulates a belief that good wine comes from good fruit, but also underlines his desire to make a boutique wine based on premium quality. In a region dominated by large wineries, such small scale production is unusual. For Claudio, growth doesn’t mean increasing production at the expense of quality however. Rather, it can be achieved through the establishment of other wine projects in other territories. This approach has already been put into practice and the Quarta brand now includes the company’s work at Tenute Eméra in Lizzano and Cantine Sanpaolo in Campania.
Moros is a small cellar off the main road through Guagnano. Recently renovated to transform the original winery features into into a small museum, tasting room and art gallery, it is a small work of art in itself. The old tanks provide a link to the winery’s roots, but additionally, to the aesthetic beauty which symbolises the Moros project. Claudio’s daughter is now deeply involved in the company and represents the next generation with which Cantina Moros will surely grow and prosper.
For Claudio and Alessandria, Salice Salentino is a wine characterised by huge potential. The vineyards which incorporate this well known, but much abused (big bottlers) denomination are one of the great assets of the territory. Climatically, conditions are ideal; sun, wind and the maritime influence of Salento produce eight or nine great vintages each decade. Fruit matures more or less free from the threat of humidity and disease. In the village of Guagnano, where the company has its prized vineyard of old ‘albarello’ bush vines, a relatively even spread of clay and limestone affords the Negroamaro grape the environment it needs to mature evenly.
While the fruit may be excellent, the Moros idea starts to come together in the cellar. Above and beyond everything else, the objective is to produce a fine wine that showcases the territory and its potential. Elegance and finesse are critical components of any great wine and the challenge here is to achieve that while maintaining the wine’s links with tradition. To choose to make a DOC wine in a period when many other companies are turning their back on the concept is indicative of the task they’ve set themselves. Negroamaro, by no means an easy variety, must provide the foundations.
They have decided to produce their Salice Salentino entirely with Negroamaro. Malvasia Nera, the typical blending grape in these parts was not included for the first vintage in 2012. After much debate, American oak was chosen for the wine’s maturation journey. Tasting it seven years later there was much to like. Yet the switch in 2016 to a subtler wood influence will almost certainly bring Claudio and Alessandra closer to their goal. Elegance, finesse, a purity of fruit, all without losing its links with warm climate, full bodied Negroamaro. While great wine doesn’t happen overnight, there is a clear maturity in the winemaking here and Cantina Moros is undoubtedly a winery to follow.