When we are now soon entering the week of the Anteprime Toscane and lots of tastings of the newly released vintages, I am going to talk about something completely different, namely Castro Wine Fest in Salento in Puglia.
So, let us move away from the winter darkness and head to Puglia again, more specifically, to the village of Castro during summertime where Castro Wine Fest takes place.
Last year, I was invited to Castro Wine Fest thanks to Angelo Coluccia, the president of the association Oltrevento that organizes the event, and Stefano Spagnolo.
On a Friday in July, I arrived in Lecce where the very kind Dante Rizzo, the owner of the B&B where I stayed and also a central part of the organizational team, picked me up. He made me feel very much at home during my stay in Castro.
I had three days of fun sipping on wine in the evenings, hanging out with fellow wine writers at lunchtime, and enjoying the sun stretched out on a rock during the afternoon. Well, for a short time as my pale skin could not take too much of the Salento sun but enough to seem a bit less ‘white’ than usual. LOL
The Essence of Salento at Castro Wine Fest
Castro Wine Fest is a true summer festival focused on wine, food, and local folklore that is organized in the Medieval center of this village in Salento in Puglia. Castro is divided into the upper Medieval hamlet and center and the lower part called Castro Marina.
Castro has a long history where the caves along the coast can be traced back to prehistoric times while the first settlements date to the 17th and 16th centuries B.C. Further on, in 123 B.C it became a colony of the Roman Empire.
After the fall of the Empire, Castro would change hands between Byzantines, Normans, and even Arabs (for a short period). It continued to be a point of interest thanks to its position on the coast of Salento, being dominated by different families and principalities. In more contemporary times, it became a center for fishermen and artisans, and more recently also a tourist attraction.
Returning to the Castro Wine Fest, it goes on for three days and every evening the historical center comes alive with booths showcasing wine and olive oil mixed with street food. It is truly amazing how people come from near and far to attend this wine festival. The organizers are also extraordinary and tireless in making sure that things run as smoothly as possible. It is a small commune on the top of a rock that during the summer months swarms with life and activities.
Dinner with a view at Castro Wine Fest
The first day of Castro Wine Fest started out with a welcoming dinner where we could sip on wine from Puglia with a stunning view at sunset over Castro Marina.
Just before dinner, I was walking around with Stefano Spagnolo to check out the surroundings. At a certain point, I hear someone calling my name and I start looking around.
At first, I do not connect, thinking that it looks like Monica Coluccia…and it was indeed Monica.
Then, I thought like…wait a minute…Coluccia…also Angelo, the event president, has the surname Coluccia. So the first thing I ask Monica is: are you related?
Well, it turns out that they are not related BUT Monica’s father originally comes from Castro. A funny coincidence.
For those of you, my international readers, who do not know who Monica Coluccia is, she is an Italian wine writer…one half of a wine writing couple because her husband is also a well-known wine journalist in Italy.
Anyway, as always in Puglia, it continued like this with more and more friends and people dropping in. At a certain point, Davide Gangi arrived jumping right into my live video. Other people who made the evening into a hit were, for example, the very ‘simpatico’ Nicola Prudente “Tinto” who works at Rai, Cantina Social, and, of course, the talented Arianna Greco who paints with wine-based colors.
What about the wine at Castro Wine Fest?
All the wineries that were showcasing their wines at Castro Wine Fest 2019 were from Puglia. Mostly from the Salento area but also from the more northern parts of Puglia. The booths were mainly managed by sommeliers even though you occasionally could see some wine producers hanging around their booths.
Castro Wine Fest is mainly a popular festival where people come to enjoy the surroundings, explore the wines of Puglia, and have fun. While walking around through the picturesque streets you could taste wines such as
Ruah from Santi Dimitri winery in Galatina in Salento that is a white wine made with the Fiano grape. A wine with a mix of fruity, floral, and herby notes.
Biancofiore Daunia IGP from F.lli Tullio Cataldo winery in Candela close to Foggia in northern Puglia. This is a fresh monovarietal Fiano wine with notes of citrus fruits, white fruit, a herby touch that makes you think of the surrounding terroir.
Rosarò Negroamaro from Feudi di Guagnano winery in Guagnano just north of Lecce that is a 100% Negroamaro wine. It has fresh and fruity notes that give a sense of Salento in your glass.
Scaloti Negroamaro Salento IGP Rosato from Cosimo Taurino winery in Guagnano is also a monovarietal Negroamaro rosé wine. It is fresh and mineral with notes of red fruit, a herby touch, all in all, perfect on a summer day in Salento.
Susumaniello Rosé Puglia IGP from the Alture line of Paolo Leo winery. The Alture wines are a joint venture between the very well-known oenologist Lino Carparelli, Paolo Leo, and the young oenologist Nicola Leo. The vineyards are located on the hills in Valle dùItria in Puglia. A mineral and fruity rosé wine with a hint of spices also on the palate.
Would you be in the Salento area in Puglia this summer you should definitely make sure to visit the Castro Wine Fest!
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