Southern Italy’s native varieties were on parade at the annual wine competition
After a seven year absence, I returned to Sannicandro, Italy, last June to serve as a member of the international jury of Radici del Sud—otherwise known as the world’s only competition for wines made with native grapes from the Southern Italian regions of Abruzzo, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicilia.
Before 2015, when I first juried the competition, my exposure to many of Southern Italy’s native varieties—and the DOCs/DOCGs they come from—had been limited to my WSET studies and the occasional trade tasting. Radici del Sud provided my first immersion into the region’s wealth of grapes and wine styles. It was a defining experience, one that initiated years of study and tasting.
The winning wines at this year’s competition are memorable for several reasons: The whites were fresher, the rosés crisper, and the red wines seemingly more elegant than I recall them being in 2015. Granted, my impressions are surely influenced by the fact that I am now far more familiar with these varieties and their terroirs.
Radici del Sud, which marked its 17th anniversary this year, is unique in that it has a dual group of juries: one composed of Italian trade and press and another of international trade and press, which included several fellow Americans: Li Valentine, Lisa Denning, Matthew Horkey, Michelle Williams, my SOMM Journal colleague Lars Leicht, and Robert Camuto.
Scores determined the first- and second-place wines for both juries, and the results revealed a marked difference in palates: Not one wine received awards from both. If, like me, you’re passionate about na- tive grape varieties and their regions of origin—or even if you’re just curious—I’m providing a list of the wines awarded first place by the international jury for handy reference. Consider it a shopping list for the next time you’re looking for something off the beaten path.
All of these wines have the potential for enjoyment and represent good value.
Masciarelli Castello Semivicoli 2019 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Superiore
Casa Vinicola Roxan Corale 2020 Pecorino Colline Pescaresi
Azienda Agricola Guardiani Farchione 2011 DI TE & DI ME Riserva Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Casa Comerci Abatia 2019
Pietreionne 2020 Maiorano Falanghina
Nativ 2021 Vico Storto Greco di Tufo
San Salvatore 1988 2021 Pian di Stio Fiano
Agnanum 2016 Piedirosso Campi Flegrei Agriter Aglianico 2020
Claudio Quarta Vignaiolo SRL 2015 Taurasi Riserva
Masseria Borgo dei Trulli 2021 Vermentino
Menhir Salento 2019 Filo Terra d’Otranto Riserva Negroamaro
Le Vigne di Sammarco SRL 2016 Archè Primitivo di Manduria
Cantina di Ruvo di Puglia 2016 Augustale Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva
Le Vigne di Sammarco SRL 2017 Marasia Salento
Santa Lucia 2021 Gazza Ladra Fiano
Contini 2020 Sartiglia Cannonau di Sardegna
Contini 1979 Antico Gregori
Coppola 1971 ’71 Settantuno Spumante Brut