Geography: The region has the longest coastline (800km) in Italy, with the Adriatic down its eastern coast and the Ionian Sea along the western edge of the Salento Peninsula. The Peninsula is around 60km wide, contributing to a strong maritime influence and a perceptible saline quality to many wines. The climate is moderated by cool Bora winds blowing south across the Adriatic and hot Sirocco winds blowing north from the Sahara.
Grape varieties: Primitivo (closely related to Zinfandel), Negroamaro, glianico, Nero di Troia, Malvasia Nera di Lecce, Bombino Nero and others such as Malvasia Bianca, Susumaniello, Verdeca, Muscat, Fiano and Greco.
Viticulture: The geology is largely limestone, sand and clay, the latter valued for its water retention. The traditional form of vine training is the high albarello (little tree) system, an ancient Greek tradition designed to shade the berries from the sun.
Winemaking: Historically the region produced high alcohol strong red wines which were sent north to bolster weaker red wines. In the past years there has been a big increase in quality. Even so, many reds still have alcohol levels of 14% abv and above. Wine styles range includes reds (80%), rosé and white still white, sparkling and sweet red and white wines.
Regions: There are twenty-six appellations and a considerable number of IGP denominations. The northern region is similar to the wines of Abruzzo, with increasingly distinctive wines in the Salento Peninsula, made from rare indigenous varieties.