We tasted Nero di Troia in Bovino on the Dauni Mountains. Italy, with its extraordinary variety of territories, vines and techniques, offers the right wine for every taste: a carousel of names, aromas and flavors for the delight of connoisseurs, but in which there is a risk of getting lost.
Guests of Antonio, Winemaker of the Dauni Mountains
Hence our desire to deepen this world between sips and sleeps with ViaggidiVini. And after Cilento and Sannio we explore one of the territories of our Puglia: the Monti Dauni and their grape variety par excellence, Nero di Troia which determines a complex and intriguing wine.
In the bottle a world of aromas and flavors that evoke landscapes but also people. As in Bovino with Rocco Zambri, known as Antonio which is his middle name. And of the name of the vine of the wine produced in the area, Nero di Troia, we begin to talk. In fact, the origin of the denomination of this which represents the third native Apulian black grape variety for cultivated hectares and for commercial importance after Primitivo and Negroamaro, is very controversial and is lost in the mists of time.
There are several theories: the first tells of the Greek origin that dates back to Diomedes, a friend of Ulysses who brought vine shoots with him to Puglia which, planted on the banks of the Ofanto, gave rise to the Grape of Troy. The second hypothesis tends to the Dauna origin of the vine which would therefore be a local variety prior to Hellenic colonization. The third version wants Nero di Troia originating from the homonymous municipality in the province of Foggia, Troia, founded by the Greeks. The fourth hypothesis suggests the origin from the nearby Albanian coasts, exactly from the small village of Cruja, which later became Troia or from the Galician-Catalan region of Rioja during the Spanish domination in Puglia with the Governorate of the jurisdiction of Troia of Don Alfonso d’Avalos, who he decided to plant in the area a variety of vines coming from his country of origin and, in a short time, he obtained a prestigious wine that gained notoriety and fame with the name of Nero di Troia.
Whatever the origins of the vine, in official documents Nero di Troia appears only in 1877 in the text of Di Rovasenda “Varieties grown in Puglia. Universal ampelography essay” in which there is the first organic description of the Uva di Troia indicated, in the countryside of Trani, as Nero di Troia and, in the Bari area, as Uva di Troja or di Canosa. But already in 1854 experimental plants of Uva di Troia had been registered in Capitanata, defined as «robust variety, resistant to drought and quite productive».
After so many discussions and chatter we got thirsty and so together with Antonio we tasted the wine that is obtained from the Nero di Troia grape, ruby red in color with violet reflections to the eye. In the vineyards around his Bed and Wine, which hosted our sleeps lulled by a wonderful silence interrupted only by the chirping of the birds jumping among the vines and in another nearby estate, Antonio cultivates his Nero di Troia from which he obtains four wines: the Rosé “VienRose”, the Spumante Rosè Metodo Classico and the red “Zaviro” also available in the “Pozzo del Campo” Riserva version.
All derived from 100% Uva di Troia, including the “Donna Gaia” Classic Method which boasts the distinction of being the first sparkling wine made from Nero di Troia, the nose conveys the typical hints of red fruits that become more marked with aging recalling more intense notes of cherry jam, tobacco and black pepper.
The aging of 36 and 12 months in French oak barrels makes the 2008 and 2017 “Pozzo del Campo” Reserves enveloping and warm in the mouth.
On the palate Nero di Troia is presented as a tannic and full-bodied wine, so much so that for many years its fate, common to other Apulian wines, has been to cut less intense northern reds. The final touch is refined and brings it closer to the delicacy and elegance of some Amarone and Barolo.
But in conclusion it has its own distinct personality that makes it a unique, soft and velvety nectar. Furthermore – Antonio revealed to us – that the same type of grape harvested in different ripening periods gives very different wines.
And he adds: “From the early harvest at the beginning of September we obtain two elegant rosé wines. From the following harvests we obtain two very full-bodied reds”.
The berries are characterized by a thick black skin, with a fleshy and sweet pulp, which give wines of good alcohol content with excellent coloring intensity with violet reflections of great personality.
Antonio talks about it as a lover but his is a highly respected formation. Oenologist who graduated with full marks with Professor Luigi Moio, he deepened his knowledge with a master’s degree and various collaborations with the University of Foggia. His first production of bottled wine with his own brand took place in 2006, personally following all the stages of winemaking: from cultivation to the care of the vineyards, from harvesting to pressing the grapes, from bottling to marketing the wine.
In what were once the stables Antonio proudly showed us the machinery for the winemaking process and the labels of his excellent wine that transmits all the care and passion that is impressed in every phase of cultivation and production.
Then, he wanted to share this idyllic landscape and its nectars with others, and in the old farmhouse surrounded by vineyards dominated by the profile of the hills of the Subappenino Dauno, he created a small Bed and Wine. Only two rooms, one triple and one double with a minimal design, immersed in the vineyards and a stone’s throw from the enchanting castle of Bovino whose thick and imposing walls can be seen above.
Sleeping here is intoxicating! But it is not the wine that gets drunk but the silence and peace that reign in this splendid countryside where guests of Rocco, Antonio for friends like us, Winemaker of Monti Dauni as he likes to define himself, we found ourselves fully in the phrase of Salvador Dalì who stands out on the site of the Zambri Winery: “True connoisseurs don’t drink wine: they taste secrets”.