We don't get to taste wines from Puglia very often, but this historic area in Italy's south is one of the most culturally significant parts of Italy's wine and food culture. Often referred to as the "heel of the boot," Puglia is a peninsula that lies between two seas, the eastern Adriatic and the Gulf of Taranto, which leads into the Ionian and Mederteranian. Masseria Li Veli itself is located in the Salento region, the midpoint between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, providing an ideal climate for the cultivation of vines along with deep water tables that nourish the vines in the warmest of years.
The picturesque property is surrounded by forests containing caves and carved rocks from the early peoples of the region dating back to the Eneolithic period between 2300 and 2500 B.C. This area also caught the attention of Greeks and Romans. Toward the end of the 7th, one of the largest walls ever built, second only to the Great Wall of China, was constructed by the Byzantines to separate the Lombards from the North protecting Byzantium to the south.
Amongst all this history, Marquis Antonio de Viti de Marco, a member of Parliament of the Reign of Italy, looked to expand on this fruitful part of the country. The construction of his winery Masseria Li Veli in the 19th century created the model for winemaking in Puglia for years to come.
Holding steadfast to the ancient traditions of Puglia, many of the varietals planted on the property are that of ancient origins. The project called Askos (greek for decanter) is Masseria Li Veli's line of wines that see these nearly extinct varietals to preserve their heritage and used as a way to explain the region without it being lost to time.
The varietal used in this wine is called Verdeca, planted on sandy calcareous soils; this native grape is almost only seen in this part of Puglia and has been the source of some of the most outstanding white wines.
This is a gorgeous white wine that focuses on purity and place, seeing a low-temperature fermentation with a blocked malo in stainless steel tank to help coax out the bright and fresh aromas and flavors of the grape. It shows bright apple blossoms, ripe and slightly cooked juicy stone fruits, green mango, and a slatey minerality with a bold and tangy acidity akin to pineapple, a round yet energetic body, great mouthfeel, and a mineral-tinged finish. It is a knock-out bottle under $20 and is a pleasure to drink especially knowing this would have been a wine enjoyed centuries ago, now perfected in modern times. This Verdeca would pair very well with seafood-based started or snacks, but by itself, it is a refreshing and relaxing experience transporting you to the beautiful region of Puglia.