We are convinced that seeing where and how wine is made, living from within a company and an entire wine-growing territory, visiting a vineyard, observing the winemaker at work, is really something else because it gives a special flavor to the pleasure of wine.
In Castellana Grotte Terrecarsiche1939
A visit to the cellar is to confront the producer and his family, to understand his personality, his experience. The history of the Terrecarsiche1939 company started in 1939 and has been based in Castellana Grotte for four generations.
Andrea Insalata, the company’s administrator, tells us about it, while together with the oenologist Tommaso Pinto we follow the production process of Primitivo Fanova, the flagship of the winery, whose name deliberately refers to one of the most heartfelt castellanese traditions, those of the Fanove, colossal wood pyres that on January 11 of each year, since 1690-91, recall the miraculous intervention of the Madonna della Vetrana who freed the Castellanesi from the plague.
At the headquarters of Terrecarsiche1939 one of the largest of these hundred bonfires is lit which illuminates and warms the town in the freezing cold of the winter evening and a celebration of wine and typical products is made.
Going back to the history of the company, it all starts with Anna, affectionately defined as the grandmother of the cellar. It was she who came up with the idea of transforming the grapes of the family lands into wine and then selling it in the cellar promoting it with the marketing of the time: around the town “u bannetòre”, the auctioneer who was entrusted with the communication in those years, he proposed tasting the wine and then invited his fellow citizens to taste it.
Today there are two lines followed in the company. The first is the one entirely dedicated to the production of Primitivo di Gioia del Colle, Doc since 1987 and produced in fifteen municipalities of the Murgia Barese: in addition to Gioia del Colle, Acquaviva delle Fonti, Adelfia, Casamassima, Cassano Murge, Castellana Grotte, Conversano , Grumo Appula, Noci, Putignano, Rutigliano, Sammichele di Bari, Sannicandro di Bari, Santeramo in Colle, Turi and Altamura with the exclusion of the territory of the “Gravina” production area.
Gioia del Colle not only gave the name its name, but it can be considered its cradle, because it is here that this grape variety arrived several centuries ago, perhaps from the Balkans. Then, at the end of the 1700s a priest, Don Francesco Filippo Indellicati identified a robust variety, late flowering and early ripening and called it Primativo or Primaticcio or with the Latin term Primativus. Only later, at the end of the 19th century, the Primitivo arrived in Manduria with the cuttings brought as a dowry by a noblewoman.
The second production line concerns the white wines of the Valle d’Itria: Bianco D’Alessano also known as Acchiappapalmento, Bianco di Lessato and Verdurino, Verdeca and Minutolo.
For both the same route: from the vineyard to the winemaking cellar, from the barrel to the tasting room while remaining faithful to the name Terrecarsiche, those of the Murge territory. To which is added the view in the Castel del Monte area with the production of Nero di Troia.
And despite the growth as producers of quality wine, while until a few decades ago most of the production was destined for bulk sale, this still resists with the demand for both still and sparkling draft wine.
When one of these wines is mixed, with them centuries of history and traditions are poured into the glass that today are combined with cutting-edge techniques that guarantee a high quality standard.
But among the 600,000 bottles produced every year, the real gem are the 4000 of Regula Magistri, Primitivo di Gioia del Colle with intense aromas and colors, obtained from sapling vineyards dating back to 1940, the last to preserve the ancient tradition of winemaking of this nectar decided.
Andrea Insalata explains that the sapling carries an intrinsic quality because it produces little grapes, around 20/30 quintals per hectare. And this is certainly one of the reasons that led many winemakers to uproot the old sapling vineyards and replace them with espalier systems that guarantee a higher production. But the grubbing up of these old vineyards was a real disaster as only in these are there Primitivo biotypes unique for the characteristics of the bunch and the grape but also for the quality of taste and color that they manage to bring to the wines.
For this reason, the company jealously preserves this small plot of land in Acquaviva delle Fonti capable of producing a noble and excellent wine like Primitivo through the typical Apulian sapling which by nature supports the natural arrangement of the plant without forcing, reduces water consumption and involves a reduced but highly valuable grape yield.
Returning to the cellar, we appreciated the modern and technologically advanced architectural structure with a fermentation temperature control system and limited contact with oxygen, while the aging wines rest in the silence of the new underground cellar with an attached tasting room.
The construction of the current location coincides with the start of a new wine-growing activity and with the onset of wines, such as the sparkling white and rosé Agorà, the organic Chardonnay Bianca Petrosa and, above all, the Primitivo Gioia del Colle DOC Fanova launched in 2017 born to pay homage to the history of this land, and the Cava Bianca, which comes from two indigenous Apulian vines, the Fiano and the Bianco d’Alessano, for which a particular refinement in the bottle was thought, entrusting it to the internal microclimate of the Caves of Castellana 70 meters underground.
An experimentation for a limited production, about 3000 bottles, which intrigues a lot, not only for the charm of the place but also for the expected results on the wine. After aging in barriques, the bottles of Cava Bianca were lowered into the caves where they are “kept” by the Caverna della Fonte, in the dark, at a constant temperature of 15 ° C and with a humidity of just over 90 percent. The refinement in the bottle therefore continues in this unusual environment which guarantees an exchange between the wine and the external environment through a micro-oxygenation through the cork without a capsule. What is expected from this experiment? In addition to a unique tasting experience in the world, also purchase of unique organoleptic properties and greater longevity. We just have to wait for the result.