Pierce’s Disease Crisis in Puglia: A new commissioner and a new plan

olive tree pierces disease pugliaAbove: “Attention: You are entering an area infected by Xyella fastidiosa. Do not remove plants or parts of plants.” A sign in Puglia where the Pierce’s Disease crisis affecting olive growers remains unchecked (photo by Davide de Lentinis).

The Italian government has announced a plan and commission to combat the growing Pierce’s Disease crisis affecting olive growers in Puglia.

The “Stilletti Plan” is named after Giuseppe Stilletti, the Italian agriculture ministry’s commander for Puglia and the new commissioner in charge of spearheading a solution to the growing outbreak.

The commissioner’s office has a Facebook page that’s worth checking out. So far, it’s been updated regularly.

In a post yesterday, the editors of the page write that Stilletti’s plan has been approved and they include this note (translation mine):

In total, there are 31 outbreak areas at the moment that are being considered by the [Silletti] plan. An estimated 3,103 trees will be cut down of which 1,079 have been certified as infected (as of August 31, 2015) by the [agricultural ministry’s] Plant Health Inspection Committee.

We’ll be following the page and translating posts and posting them here as the page is updated.




Malvasia Nera, an essential component in classic Salice Salentino (and great for jam!)

Earlier this week (Sunday to be exact), here’s what Cantele grape grower and winemaker Gianni wrote on his Facebook about the Malvasia Nera he and his family were harvesting.

Today we are also harvesting a little bit of Malvasia Nera, an increasingly rare grape variety in the classic field blend for Salice Salentino DOC.

And a crate or two will also end up in the able hands of my mother so that she can make her fantastic grape mostarda (jam).

Cantele is one of the few Salento producers who continue to use the traditional blend for Salice Salentino.

Malvasia Nera’s natural sweetness and aromatic character help to balance the earthy and dark chocolate flavors of the Negroamaro, the primary grape in the appellation.

By blending in a small amount of Malvasia (usually around 5 per cent in the case of Cantele), winemaker Gianni obtains a nuanced equilibrium of umami and fruit flavor in the wine.

And the grape variety’s natural sweetness also makes it perfect for mom’s jam!

Cantele featured in Wine Spectator

“While the endorsement of local varieties is growing more prevalent among Puglia’s quality producers,” writes Wine Spectator editor Alison Napjus in the October 2015 issue of the magazine, “it remains a difficult task to educate the wider world about these grapes.”

“‘I would like to do something to help the popularity of Negroamaro,’ says Gianni Cantele, of his family’s Cantele winery, which moved from large-volume winemaking to smaller, quality-oriented production in the late 1990s.”

“‘Negroamaro is a challenge for us. In this part of Salento it’s all Negroamaro, so of course we want to promote the reputation of the grape. It’s not an easy job to do. But at the end of the day, I think this is very important to increase overall quality.'”

Check out Alison’s interview with Gianni in her feature article “Puglia: Out of the Shadows” in the current issue of the magazine (October 2015).

puglia wine spectator

The “art” of winemaking: Primitivo swirls as pressing begins

vinification primitivo pugliaWinemaker Gianni posted this amazing photo and the following note yesterday on his Facebook as he began pressing the Primitivo grapes from the 2015 harvest.

Racking the Primitivo: Today the press decided to show its artistic flair by creating these strange purple swirls.

Stay tuned for more notes from the #Puglia #Harvest2015!

A Cantele harvest tradition: Mamma’s eggplant parmigiana

eggplant parmigiana recipe best italyIt’s become something of a CanteleUSA tradition: Every year we post an image of the eggplant parmigiana that Mrs. Cantele makes for Gianni during post-harvest vinification when he’s literally on call 24/7.

As the saying goes, wine waits for no [hu]man. Gianni spends each night at the winery lovingly guarding over his fermenting grape must.

And every year, without missing a beat, Mrs. Cantele sends her now famous eggplant (above).

Here’s what Gianni had to say on his Facebook yesterday together with the photo…

Over the last few days, I’ve forgotten to post the photo of the eggplant parmigiana that my mother had waiting for me at the winery.

I love how she makes it and I just go crazy for it.

It really helps to raise my spirits when I’m tired and beat from the exhausting days of the harvest.

Mom, thank you for this dish and for the countless times I’ve forgotten to thank you!