THE BASSA MURGIA & ITRIA VALLEY, area in Puglia to the south of Bari on the Adriatic coast of Italy, bordering on the provinces of Brindisi and Lecce. The soils and climate may appear homogeneous, but two specific areas stand out from the rest, both historically quite distinct in their winegrowing practices, the Bassa (Lower) Murgia and the Valle d’Itria. The first, the final extension to the south of the Murge plateau, is the homeland of red grapes, while the latter, contrary to what its name (valle, valley) implies, not a true valley but a karst depression, has always enjoyed high respect for its white grapes.
Valle d’Itria | Winegrowing in the Valle d’Itria contrasts with the regional tendency towards red-wine grapes; its vineyards, for the most part tiny plots of land lovingly cared for piece by piece, have for centuries been devoted to white grapes, which display delicate aromas and good acidity levels. Two varieties have always predominated, Verdeca and Bianco d’Alessano; in various proportions, they make up the two principal local DOP wines, Martina Franca DOP and Locorotondo DOP. Ostuni DOP, produced in the same area, relies on lesser-known native white grapes, Impigno and Francavidda, while the production code for the area’s red wines specifies Ottavianello as the predominant variety.
Bassa Murgia | The Bassa Murgia, which lies within the larger area of the Murgia IGP denomination, reflects the classic Puglia preference for red wines, utilising the Primitivo grape, the “father” of Primitivo di Manduria and the mainstay of Gioia del Colle DOP. The Primitivo is found as well in the Valle d’Itria, but in lesser amounts.
Wine grapes | Among the overall area’s viticultural rarities, the Minutolo, an aromatic grape, holds pride of place; in recent years, various studies and research have resulted in its definitive placement within the family of white Muscats.
Climate | The climate here is characterised by severe winters; the summers are generally long and warm, but mild and well-ventilated as well, with significantly cool night-time temperatures.
Soils | With respect to soils, karst formations are common, and soils are calcareous or calcareous-clay, with the classic terre rosse, red soils derived from weathering of rock. Vineyard elevations range from 350 to 420 metres, and hillslopes are very gentle, generally facing southeast.
Landscape | Long, straight lines of dry-stone walls compose the geometry of this tranquil countryside; the glare of the white-washed walls of the utterly unique trulli that dot the landscape, with their conical roofs and centuries-old fascination that has won them designation as UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the brilliant hues of the land; the sea dominating the horizon.