- Puglia, Italy
Founded in 2004 by Cristiano Guttarolo, the Guttarolo winery lies outside of the ancient hill town of Gioia del Colle (“jewel of the hills”) on a 400-meter plateau 25 miles inland from the coastal city of Bari. The farmhouse and winery are built of stone pulled from the ground surrounding them long ago. There are about 7 hectares of vineyard, the focus being Primitivo, the most prominent local black grape variety. This thick-skinned, high-sugar grape is famously cranked out in bulk on the hot plains of southern Puglia. But Cristiano has taken a different approach from the start. To begin with, his terroir is much cooler--due to maritime breezes, slopes and altitude—and rich in limestone, so the grapes tend toward higher acidity and more complex aromatics naturally. Then he takes a very natural approach in caring for the vines and the wines. The vines range in age from 10 to 25 years, are mainly Guyot-trained and are farmed organically (certified by Ecocert). They are also treated with biodynamic preparations, with the soils lightly tilled only once per season, so natural growth thrives between rows. The yields are kept intentionally low and the harvest is by hand in multiple passes. The growing season is long and slow and ripening can even be a challenge up here (not a problem associated normally with Primitivo from Puglia). All of Cristiano’s wines are fermented in tank with natural yeasts and zero sulfur; aging generally takes place in tank as well, though in clay amphorae for one wine; they are bottled without fining, filtration or sulfur and aged for 6 months before release. The end result of this gentle approach in both vineyard and cellar is high-toned, lively and balanced Primitivo wines, arguably among the most elegant and expressive of the entire region.