Leone de Castris is one of the top producers in Puglia and since 1665 the Leone de Castris family have operated the oldest winery in Puglia. Amongst their achievements, the firm is credited with the invention of the famed red wine called Salice Salentino DOC over 50 years ago.
Their large holdings produce a wide range of wines, some of which were on tasting at the dinner.
From my experience tasting the wines in and around Lecce and other locations in Puglia, at different bars and Restaurants, this renage of wines is intersting in its diversity, and the wines are very reliable, if not excellent in quality and value.
The estate is situated on lands of ancient vine growing and wine making tradition in Salento in Puglia. Salento is located on the “heel” of the boot that is geographically know as Italy. The “terroir” is renowned for their content of clay and “tufo” which support the many varietals that are grown in this part of Italy’s south.
The Salento Peninsula gets more than its fair share of hot sunshine. Luckily the vineyards are well ventilated by the Mediterranenss soft and constant breezes that blow across the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
The Phoenicians, in about 2000 BC, so loved this area for grape production that they called it Enotria.
Although the vineyard operations of Leone de Castris are not strictly certified as organic, in essence however they are. This is similar to many European vineyards that have always managed their holdings in a “natural biological manner”. The vineyards are cared for using organic practices such as the placement of natural fertilizer around the vines and intra-vigna growth of grasses to cut down on any troublesome weeds. Aggressive pruning in the vineyards is practiced to reduce any biological interference with the grape’s growth. This ranges from insect infestation to skin rusts. Thus, the vines are aggressively pruned back and the harvest of grapes is highly selective.
The production facility at the famous winery is ultra modern and the winery now turns out award -winning wines year in and year out.
They also bring to the market, some of the most outstanding values available from any large Italian producer.
Perhaps the most celebrated of their wines in the US and other markets is the red the Salice Salentino!
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate gave this wine 90 points and their tasting notes are as follows:
The 2006 Salice Salentino Rosso (Riserva 50th Vendemmia) Negroamaro, Malvasia Nera is a very pretty, nuanced wine laced with wild cherries, plums, graphite and spices. Silky tannins frame an exceptional, elegant finish. This cask-aged Salice Salentino is a gem, not to mention an absolute steal for the money!
I had the pleasure of attending this Wine Dinner at the FURNIRUSSI TENUTA on a beautiful balmy summers eve. The menu was designed to celebrate “The Fig”– with a tasting of gourmet dishes, and matching wines from the Leone de Castri range of Salento wines.The event was held on August 17, 2012.
The wines were very competently introduced and described by the very knowledgeable Presented Sommelier Michele Marangop (who is a contributor to the sommelier wine guide “Slowine” of “Slow Food”).
The Menu was comprised of the following and I must say I much prefer the Italian, rather then the English!
Battuta di fico alle erbe aromatiche ed il gambero gallipolino al cubo
(Macerated fig with aromatic herbs and cubed shrimp from Gallipoli)
WINE: Angiò Igt Salento Bianco Fiano 2011
Risotto carnaroli mantecato al crudo di parma e i punti di fico macerati con santo reggia e zenzero
(Carnaroli rice creamed with parma ham and points of fig and ginger macerated with santoreggia)
WINE: Five Roses 68° Anniversario Igt Salento Rosato 2011
La lombata di maialino, cotta a bassa temperatura, alcuni punti di verdure e la roccia di fico
(Pork loin, cooked at low temperature, baby vegetables and fig rock)
WINE: Angiò Igt Salento Bianco Fiano 2011
Il pan perduto passato velocemente in padella, la crema di fico ed il gelato al latte di mandorla
(The panperduto passed quickly in a pan, cream of fig and almond milk ice cream)
WINE: Pierale Igt Puglia Dolce Moscato 2011
Leone de Castris Range of Wines
*Villa FURNIRUSSI Tenuta/Hotel
ADDRESS Furni Russi TenutaStrada Comunale “Scine” n. 29 – 31 73020 Serrano Fraz. di Carpignano Salentino (LE) – Italia
Exerpt from the “Wine Diary” of Connoisseur Magazine Wine Correspondent -Axel Ritenis