Barrique-fermented Chardonnay at Cantele

A few days ago, winemaker Gianni Cantele shared the above photo on Facebook.

Those are French barriques, 225-liter oak casks, used for fermenting the winery’s flagship Teresa Manara Chardonnay.

Check out the Facebook post where he also shared video of the wine as it begins to ferment.

As Gianni explains, some of the barriques are new while some of them have already been used for two or three vintages.

After fermentation is complete, he will blend the wine using all three “expressions” of the vintage — from new, 2-year, and 3-year casks.

A few years ago, we published this post on Gianni’s approach to cask fermentation and aging.

He doesn’t use oak as a tool to impart oaky flavors to the wine. He uses it to micro-oxygenate the wine as it ferments and ages, making for richer and more complex aromas and flavors.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the winery’s Teresa Manara Chardonnay. When Gianni’s father first made this wine, he became a pioneer of Pugliese white wine production. Today, it is considered a benchmark not just for Pugliese whites but for Italian whites in general.

Gianni and the Cantele family had a great harvest this year and they are expecting this vintage to be one of their best in recent memory.

The wine is named Teresa Manara after the grandmother to the current generation of Cantele. Inspired by the beauty of the Salento peninsula, she was the one who convinced her husband to relocate in the south from northern Italy in the years that followed the second world war. The rest is history…

Cantele Chardonnay, a ground-breaking white from Puglia

Cantele set the standard for Italian Chardonnay when founding winemaker Augusto Cantele began experimenting with picking times and temperature-controlled fermentation in the 90s.

Puglia’s limestone soils are ideal for producing fresh, balanced, and richly flavored Chardonnay with mineral backbone.

A top pairing for Pugliese crudo and Puglia’s Japanese inspired cuisine.

A note on Cantele’s Chardonnay from the Cantele winery site:

Augusto Cantele changed the course of Puglia viticulture when he first began to grow and vinify Chardonnay in Salento in the early 1990s. After years spent studying winemaking and working in wineries in northern Italy, where Italy’s white production was focused at the time, not only had he nurtured a taste for fresh, fruit-driven whites, but he also had developed his immense skill and experience in growing practices and vinification techniques used in the production of top white wines.

Even before he returned to Puglia to join his family’s winery, he had long dreamed of making Chardonnay in his family’s adoptive homeland — Puglia’s Salento peninsula. When the estate began releasing its first white wines, he became a pioneer of Chardonnay production in the region.

Today, the winery’s bottlings of Chardonnay — from its youthful Chardonnay to the French barrique-aged Teresa Manara — are considered benchmarks for the category.

Click her for a technical fact sheet.

Gorgeous Chardonnay from the 2018 harvest!

Cantele winemaker Gianni Cantele shared the above photo on his Facebook last week: gorgeous Chardonnay bunches from the 2018 harvest.

They’re almost ready to pick, he writes.

This year, “all we need to do is crush and ferment,” he says.

That’s how good he expects this harvest to be.

That fruit will become Cantele’s top Chardonnay, “Teresa Manara.”

Click here for Gianni’s post and a couple more photos from this year’s Chardonnay harvest.

Cantele Chardonnay for summer: A Chardonnay “benchmark”

Augusto Cantele changed the course of Puglia viticulture when he first began to grow and vinify Chardonnay in Salento in the early 1990s. After years spent studying winemaking and working in wineries in northern Italy, where Italy’s white production was focused at the time, not only had he nurtured a taste for fresh, fruit-driven whites, but he also had developed his immense skill and experience in growing practices and vinification techniques used in the production of top white wines.

Even before he returned to Puglia to join his family’s winery, he had long dreamed of making Chardonnay in his family’s adoptive homeland — Puglia’s Salento peninsula. When the estate began releasing its first white wines, he became a pioneer of Chardonnay production in the region.

Today, the winery’s bottlings of Chardonnay — from its youthful Chardonnay to the French barrique-aged Teresa Manara — are considered benchmarks for the category.

Cantele Chardonnay

CLASSIFICATION: I.G.T. Salento.

GRAPE VARIETY: 100% Chardonnay.

PRODUCTION AREA: Guagnano (LE), Montemesola (TA).

TRAINING: Guyot (5,000 plants per hectare).

HARVEST: First ten days of August.

VINIFICATION: The grapes are destemmed, crushed, and gently pressed. The must is cooled to 10° C. in order to allow for natural fining. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out in stainless-steel vats at 15° C.

AGING POTENTIAL: A wine that will maintain its freshness and flavor for 2 years.

COLOR: Straw yellow with hints of green.

NOSE: Notes of lily, magnolia, juniper, and linden are followed by ripe fruit and seductive herbaceous aromas.

PALATE: The alcoholic structure and freshness in this wine reward the wine lover with its drinkability and approachability. Its rich finish mirrors its aromas with great balance.

PAIRING: Seafood in general, particularly mollusks and shellfish.
Vegetables and soft cheeses.

SERVING TEMPERATURE: 11° C. (52° F.).

Late harvest Chardonnay & mamma’s eggplant parmigiana

late harvest chardonnay

Grape grower and winemaker Gianni Cantele posted this beautiful photo of late-harvest Chardonnay on his Facebook this week.

But the photo that had us salivating like Pavlov’s dog was the one he posted of his mother’s melanzane alla parmigiane (eggplant parmigiana), that unlikely and irresistible pairing of the fruits of southern Italy (yes, eggplant is a fruit and not a vegetable) and one of the great food products of the Italy’s north, Parmigiano Reggiano.

eggplant parmigiana recipe

“My harvest exile in the cellar continues,” writes Gianni, who, like all winemakers during this period of the year, literally lives at the winery without being able to return home. “I’m beginning to miss my bed and the comforts of home. But I will stoically carry on.”

“There are two things that give me the strength not to give up: Negroamaro grapes worth shouting about (a great vintage!) and my mother’s eggplant parmigiana.”

Goodnight Chardonnay see you tomorrow (Chardonnay harvest is complete)

chardonnay fermentation

Above: “Goodnight, Chardonnay, see you tomorrow,” wrote Paolo Cantele on his Facebook on Friday night. Below, a note from winemaker Gianni Cantele.

After two weeks of intense work, Saturday was the last day of the 2013 Chardonnay harvest. There’s no doubt that this is a good vintage. As it dripped out of the soft presses, the must had a rich aroma that I hadn’t smelled for a long time.

It’s the first indication of a vintage that is very likely to be high in quality.

Of course, after an observation like that, whether or not you believe in superstition, you had better knock on wood, iron, or other things that I won’t specify here.

The wine cellar has been invaded by the aromas of fermentation and I’m very happy about the results so far.

My grandmother Teresa was Romagnola through and through, a very practical woman. She loved to say, chi si loda, si imbroda. Literally, it means, he who praises himself, always spills the soup on himself. In other words, pride comes before a fall.

So you won’t hear me singing my own praises. But I will sing those of the people who have been working with us for some time now.

I can say that I have a team of splendid persons who work with the synchronicity and precision of a symphony orchestra. They are all highly talented.

Vincenzo, il responsabile della cantina, mi da la sicurezza di vedere messe in pratica tutte le indicazioni che do durante la giornata.

I know I can always rely on Vincenzo, my cellar master, who carries out my instructions flawlessly throughout the day.

And then there are Claudio, Diego, Antonello, Carlo, Andrea, Salvatore, and Giuseppe.

They are all as tough as nails and accumstomed to getting their hands dirty. They know that the quality of our wines is owed in part to them.

Then there is Lorenza, my guardian angel in the laboratory. And Mariapia, who, like me, studied food technology but then began working in enology. This year, she’s been giving me a hand in managing the technology.

Wine is made in the vineyard, of course. But if you don’t work with precision and passion in the cellar, you’re bound to wind up with a big mess on your hands!

Gianni Cantele