The glamorous life of a winemaker #harvest2018

Cantele winemaker Gianni Cantele is very happy with the results of this year’s harvest. The quality of the fruit is great and the winemaking has gotten off to an excellent start.

But he wasn’t so happy Sunday morning when he opened a stuck valve on a fermentation tank and was rewarded with a blast of Negroamaro to the face!

Like all winemakers at this time of year, Gianni’s exhausted: he’s working at the winery literally 24/7, often going without sleep or sleeping at the winery as the must ferments.

But despite being tired and hungry — and in much need of a shower! — Gianni is really pleased with this year’s harvest.


Cantele Rosato 2016: 90 POINTS ROBERT PARKER! “Wow, this is excellent value.”

So great to see this wine getting the attention it deserves.

“Wow, this is excellent value,” writes Monica Larner for Robert Parker.

Here are her tasting notes and score…

Cantele 2016 Rosato
90 points

This is a cheerful rosé from the deep south of Italy that opens to a bright pink-raspberry color. The 2016 Negroamaro Rosato is a distinct wine that boasts high individuality. The bouquet is almost savory in character with wild sage, dried fruit and cherry cola. This is a robust and medium-bodied rosato that stands a notch higher in terms of intensity next to many of its peers. Wow, this is excellent value.

This dynamic winery in the southern tip of Puglia shows some of the best values across the board in this roundup of Italian wines priced under $25. Congratulations to the winemaking team at Cantele for achieving such remarkable volume versus value margins. Case production on the three wines listed here are pretty big, ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 bottles of each wine.

Monica Larner
Italian wine reviewer

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…

95 points for Teresa Manara Chardonnay from Daniele Cernilli and Doctor Wine!

We were thrilled to receive news that the Cantele 2016 Late Harvest Chardonnay Teresa Manara was awarded 95/100 points by Daniele Cernilli, one of the world’s great Italian wine experts and critics, founder and longtime editor of the Gambero Rosso guide to Italian wines and now editor of an immensely popular online wine portal, Doctor Wine.

The score will be officially presented in October of this year when he presents Doctor Wine’s new guide to the wines of Italy.

Barrique fermentation and aging at Cantele, a post by winemaker Gianni Cantele

Above: Cantele winemaker and grape grower Gianni Cantele discusses the winery’s approach to cask aging. Some might be surprised by his insights. Cantele became a pioneer of cask fermentation and cask aging in Puglia when it first began producing its flagship Teresa Manara Chardonnay 20 years ago.

We currently have about 700 barriques, small oak casks used for aging wine. Almost all of them come from French coopers and are made with French wood. 10% of our barriques are made from American wood and are used solely for the aging of our Primitivo.

A French barrique costs Euro 700. Why am I telling you this? So that you can get a sense of the budget required for a winery that has roughly 700 barriques in its cellar. This is one of the reasons that wines aged in wood casks cost more.

Many people believe, erroneously, that wood casks are used to give a certain flavor to the wine. The truth is that the wine is conceived in the vineyard and that’s the wine that we put into the barriques. When we’re making an important wine, with a lot of structure, the wine has the muscle needed for cask aging.

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20 years of Teresa Manara Chardonnay and high expectations for this year’s harvest

Cantele began picking its prized Chardonnay this week, grapes that will become its flagship white wine, Teresa Manara Chardonnay. Winemaker Gianni Cantele is extremely pleased with the results of this years harvest and he expects this vintage of Teresa Manara to be spectacular.

The Cantele family made history when it planted and began producing Chardonnay in Puglia in the 1990s. Today, the wines are considered benchmarks for the region.

Despite its renown in Italy, the wine only became available in the U.S. last year. And we are definitely looking forward to sharing it with our American friends in years to come.

Click here for the technical details on the current vintage release (2016).

Evviva Teresa Manara!

From the Cantele Winery website:

This wine is named after Teresa Manara, grandmother to the current generation of the Cantele family and the woman who inspired her husband to resettle in Salento, a land that had swept her off her feet when she first saw it on a business trip with him.

Mother, grandmother, wife, and muse, she continues to be a guiding light for the family and its wines, including its flagship Chardonnay and Negroamaro, named in her honor.

She traveled across Italy at a time when only men were allowed to do business. And her indomitable spirit lives on in these unforgettable wines, which were created by her son Augusto in the 1990s using select grapes from top vineyards.

Cantele Rosato from Negroamaro: The “Gold Standard” of Pugliese rosé

Known as the gold standard in Pugliese rosé, Cantele’s Negroamaro Rosato regularly lands 90+ scores from top reviewers including Robert Parker. This clean, bright, extremely fresh wine abounds in red berry and ripe red fruit, a perfect pairing for shellfish, fried fish, and oven-fired whole fish like orata.

A note on Negroamaro, in all its expressions, from the Cantele winery site:

The village folk still call it Niuru Maru: Negroamaro, meaning bitter black (red).

In another era, Negroamaro was grown solely to ship to the north of Italy where the colder climate made it challenging to obtain the desired color and alcohol levels in the wines they produced. But in recent decades, more and more Salento wineries have looked to the variety as one of the most noble expressions of Pugliese viticulture.

Thanks to its vibrant acidity and its wonderful balance of fruit and earth flavors, the popularity of Negramaro only continues to grow — among winemakers and wine lovers alike.

Cantele’s barrique-aged Teresa Manara Negroamaro is widely considered to be a benchmark for the category and the winery’s Salice Salentino, also made using a selection of top fruit, is once its most critically acclaimed wines in the U.S. today. Cantele also uses Negroamaro to make youthful, fresh wine and a rosé, both of which are also favorites among our American friends.