Puglia: wine family


(Guests gather in the winery’s courtyard)! !

Welcome.! !

The Cantele Winery is a family-run estate, founded roughly thirty-five years ago. But its

story begins much earlier than that.! !

Perhaps you know that Cantele is not a typical Pugliese surname. In fact, it’s from the

Veneto, in Italy’s northeast. ! !

Giovanni Battista Cantele was born and grew up in the town of Pra Maggiore, in the

province of Venice. Before the second world war, he moved to the city of Imola, in Emilia-

Romagna. That was where he met the woman who would become his wife, Teresa

Manara. And it was also where their two sons were born, Augusto and Domenico.! !

After the war, Giovanni Battista began working in the wine world, selling bulk wine that he

would buy in the Salento peninsula of Puglia (where we are now). Back then, it was

common for Pugliese wine to be sold in the north, especially in regions like the Veneto,

Tuscany, Piedmont and even France. Because it was high in alcohol and rich in structure,

body, and color, Pugliese wine was an ideal blending wine to “help” the wines from regions

with colder climates, especially in difficult vintages. His business began to thrive and he

found himself traveling frequently between Imola and the province of Lecce (where we are

now). On one such trip, he borught his wife Teresa Manara and she immediately fell in love

with Puglia. It didn’t take long for her to convince her husband to move the family down to

Salento. And so, at a time when many southerners were migrating north in search of work

during the 1950s, Giovanni Battista and the Cantele family were “reverse” immigrants.! !

Giovanni Battista and Teresa’s first born son Augusto Cantele was sixteen years old a the

time and he stayed behind (although he would later join them). Instead of heading south to

Salento, he remained in the north and enrolled in the enology program at the famous

institute for viticultural research in Conegliano. Upon completion of his studies, the young

enologist Giovanni Battista found work at wineries in Conegliano, where Prosecco and

other white wines are made. These years of experience would prove fundamental when,

later in his life, he became one of the first — if not the first — to make modern-style white

wines, in particular, Chardonnay. He was the first winemaker in Salento to barrel ferment

Chardonnay (the way it is made in France).! !

In the 1970s, Augusto decided to join his family in the Salento peninsula. Here, he

continued to work as a consulting enologist for wineries in the township of Guagnano

(where we are right now). And then in 1979, he and his brother Domenico and their father

Giovanni Battista decided to build the Cantele winery.! !

The third generation of the family has been working in the winery for roughly fifteen years

now: cousins Gianni, Paolo, Umberto, and Luisa.! !

Gianni is in charge of production. After working side-by-side with Augusto for many years,

he became the enologist and the winemaker behind all of our wines.! !

Paolo and Umberto are in charge of sales and marketing, including on- and offline

strategies, media, and social media. ! !

Luisa and Gabriella, Gianni’s wife, work in the winery’s administration department.! !

Domenico is in charge of accounting and finances.! !

You could say that it’s a true family affair.! !

Currently, the Cantele winery produces nearly 2 million bottles of wine that are sold

exclusively through restaurants, wine shops, and specialized stores. None of our wines are

distributed through bulk distribution channels like supermarkets.! !

Roughly 70% of the wines are sold in foreign markets, especially Germany and the U.S.! !

Other markets include: central Europe, eastern Europe (Ukraine, Russia, and Poland),

Canada, China, Australia, and Costa Rica. The remaining 30% is sold to the Italian market

thanks to a roughly 40-person sales team who cover all of the important Italian cities.! !

The winery’s architecture was inspired by the classic style of Salento’s historic

farmhouses. Our offices are located in the central building on the ground floor. Gianni and

his wife live in an apartment on the first floor during harvest and our new project, iSensi, “a

synaesthetic laboratory,” is also located on the first floor.! !

Just like the old farm houses here in Salento, the winery is designed like a horseshoe, with

a wing on either side. ! !

On the right, our bottling facility and bottled wine storage.! !

On the left, our white wine fermentation facility, which also houses all of the pre-bottling

operations, like tartaric stabilization and filtration.! !

The pressing of the grapes takes place outside, where our press is located.! !

(at this point, guests are accompanied to the press)! !

Currently, the Cantele produces wine from grapes grown in roughly 200 hectares of

vineyards (roughly 500 acres), 50 of which are owned by the winery while the rest are

managed by Cantele. We buy the grapes from the vineyards not owned by the winery but

they are managed directly by winemaker Gianni Cantele and our agronomist Cataldo

Ferrari.! !

Havest generally begins mid-August with the picking of the Chardonnay. Primitivo comes

next, toward the end of August. Primitivo is the red grape that ripens before the rest. That’s

the reason it’s called primitivo or early. Around September 10th, we begin picking the other

grapes: Negroamaro (which represents roughly 50% of our entire production), our two

“international” grapes (Syrah and Merlot, which are used in our Varius line), Fiano, and

then at the end of September, our Verdeca and Aglianico.! !

White Wine Production! !

The grape bunches are destemmed and pressed.! !

Not all the white grapes are pressed. In the case of the Fiano and the Teresa Manara

Chardonnay, the grapes are de-stemmed and then macerated (with their skins) for twentyfour

hours at low temperatures.! !

Before the grapes are pressed, they are chilled to around 8-10° Celsius using a heat

exchanger. Then they are soft pressed.! !

What is a “soft press”? It’s a cylinder that turns. Inside, a inflatable membrane gently

crushes the skins of the berries to extract their must. Depending on the amount of

pressure exerted by the membrane, different types of grape must can be obtained: ! !

With pressure of 0 to .2 bars, you get the “first pressing” (Fiano, Teresa Manara)!

From .2 to 1 bar you get the “second pressing” (which will be vinified separate because it

contains polyphenolic substances [tannins] and is richer in aroma).!

From 1 to 2 bars, you obtain the least valued must, which will be sent to a distillery.! !

Fermentation Vats! !

The wine must is transferred to a stainless-steel tank where it is stored at 10-12° C. as it

naturally decants itself, a natural separation of the solids from the liquid (overnight). The

next day the clear wine must is racked (i.e., removed) from the tank. The sediment is

filtered and the result must is added to the second pressing. It will ferment at around

14-16° C. for 12-15 days.! !

Once fermentation is completed, the wine is racked in order to remove its larger solids and

then it is aged on its lees. The natural cloudiness of the lees — the dead yeast cells —

lasts for 30 to 90 days, with frequent pumping over. By doing so, the sediment does not fall

to the bottom and instead remains suspended in the wine. This helps the winemaker to

avoid reduction, which can cause unwanted aromas.! !

This technique is very important for two reasons.! !

The first is that it helps to give the wine richer flavor thanks the properties that the dead

yeast cells can give to the wine itself, thus adding to its complexity.! !

Secondly, by working at low temperatures (around 8-10° C.), the winemaker can proceed

without the addition of sulfur (sulfites). During this phase, the cellular walls of the lees act

as a natural receptacle for oxygen, thus protecting the wine from oxidation.! !

After two or three months, preparation for bottling begins, including clarification, filtration,

and tartaric stabilization. The wine is then aged in stainless-steel tanks.! !

Red Wine Production! !

The grapes are de-stemmed and pressed. They are then cooled to around 15° C. using a

heat exchanger (just as for the whites). The pressed grapes are then transferred to

fermentation vats where fermentation and maceration begins.! !

Fermentation takes place between 20° and 26° C. using fermentation tanks with tank wrap

heat exchangers that regulate the temperature. This preserves the aromas and classic

flavors of the grape variety. Alcoholic fermentation lasts about 5-6 days. And maceration

time is based on the type of wine we wish to obtain.!


For the entry-tier wines, maceration lasts 6-7 days. 15-20 days for the more important

wines.! !

Once maceration is complete, the liquid is racked to separate it from the skins that end up

in the press. As for the white wines, there is a first pressing from which we obtain the top

wines and then a second pressing. ! !

The red wine is then transferred to tank in our underground cellar where it will undergo

malolactic fermentation and then barrique aging.! !

Rosé Wine Production! !

It’s a long-standing tradition of the Salento peninsula to make rosé by macerating the wine

must with its skins for a short time before fermentation begins. Thanks to temperature

control, we can even macerate for as long as 24 hours. When we rack the must, we obtain

no more than 20% of the total volume of the grapes.! !

The wine must is chilled and then naturally filtered. Once alcoholic fermentation begins, it

lasts for around 10 days and is carried out at 15-16° C.! !

The remaining wine must (80%) continues to macerate with the skins (with a higher ratio of

skins per liquid and thus more concentrated). This will become our Teresa Manara

Negroamaro.! !

The process continues as for our white wine. The wine is racked in order to remove any

solids and then it ages on its lees, a very important phase for this wine.! !

After 2-3 months, we begin to prepare for bottling, meaning that the wine is clarified,

filtered, and undergoes tartaric stabilization.! !

The wine is then aged in stainless-steel vats.! !

(The group moves to the white wine fermenation room.)! !

These tanks are used for the fermentation and aging of the white wines and the rosé. As

you can see, these tanks (just like the fermentation vats outside) are insulated so that we

can regulate their temperature and keep them cool. All of the tanks can be monitored and

regulated using a simple control panel. ! !

(The group moves to the underground cellar.)! !

We expected that excavation for this underground cellar would have taken 20 days. But it

took much longer than expected because of a layer of hard rock, something that you rarely

see in the Salento peninsula, where the subsoil is generally soft, friable (crumbly) stone. It

took us much longer and cost more than we expected but our underground cellar allows to

keep our wines at a constant temperature all year round. This is the reason that the

underground cellar is used for the aging of our red wines. The greater consistency in

temperature also helps to keep the bacteria needed for malolactic fermentation active.! !

What is malolactic fermentaiton? It is the transformation of malic acidity into lactic acidity.

All of our red wines undergo malolactic fermentation and it helps to give them greater

softness.! !

Oak Cask Aging Room! !

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.! !

Generally, we start with a wine that doesn’t already have the balance needed for the

presence of tannins and other polyphenols. The barrique is the tool that we use to achieve

that balance. Thanks to the natural micro-oxygenation that wood permits, chemicalphysical

changes occur in the wine that transforms an imbalanced wine into a balanced

wine with structure.! !

Cask aging also helps to stabilize the color of the wine itself and to increase its longevity.

On its own, the anthocyanin molecule would wane. I need to make that molecule bind itself

to the tannin. And for this reason, I need an oxygen molecule that will permit it to bind itself

to the tannin. This is why micro-oxygenation in oak casks is so important.! !

It’s wrong to think that wood casks are used to give different types of flavor to wine. It’s

also true that when the wood is toasted, it can have an “aromatic impact.” The important

thing is to make sure that the impact isn’t excessive and that it respects the grape variety’s

characteristics without overshadowing them.! !

We use our barriques for five years and then they are retired (we sell them for Euro 60

each to restaurants, wine shops, and wine bars that use them for decoration).! !

Our barriques are crafted by top coopers and as soon as we empty them, we wash them

with hot water and refill them immediately with wine.! !

Here’s the aging regimen for our most important wines (Teresa Manara Negroamaro,

Amativo):! !

1/3 new barriques!

1/3 one-year-old barriques!

1/3 two-year-old barriques! !

For all the other red wines, we use barriques in their third, fourth, and fifth years.! !

The only white wine for which we use wood casks is our Teresa Manara Chardonnay. The

wine is racked into barrique while still fermenting (as for all of our white wines,

fermentation is initiated in stainless steel so that we can maintain a constant temperature

of 15° C.). Once the fermentation in barrique is completed, the wine ages on its lees in

barrique and we perform bâtonnage (a stirring of the lees) on a daily basis for two months.

Then the lees are stirred once or twice a week for the remaining months before bottling.! !

Bottling Facility! !

A completely automatic bottling line that can process roughly 4,000 bottles per hour.! !

Rinser:! !

The rinser uses micro-filtered water so as to ensure the absence of external matter.! !!

Filler:! !

The bottle appears empty but it’s actually full of air. The filler completes the so-called “preevacuation”

by removing the air and then filling the bottle with nitrogen. And then it begins

filling it with wine.! !

Corking machine:! !

It removes air from the neck of the bottle and then inserts the cork.! !

During this phase, the presence of oxygen needs to be a minimum in order to not

accelerate oxidation. Oxygenation needs to happen over time, by means of a seal made of

cork.! !

For ready-to-drink wines, we also use synthetic corks. These wines are meant to be drunk

in their youth.

Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

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