Apulia or Puglia is the region in Italy that forms the heel of the Italian ‘boot’. The region was settled by several Italic tribes and by Greek colonists before it was conquered by Rome in the 4th century B.C. As usual, the Romans organized the land in agricultural parcels, built roads and established new settlements. After the fall of the Empire, the region was held at various times by Goths, Lombards, Normans, Turks and Venetians before being integrated into the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. Social and agrarian reforms proceeded slowly in the 19th century and accelerated considerably in the mid-to-late 20th century Industry has expanded rapidly in the 20th century but farming still represents the main occupation in the region. Regional products include olives, grapes, cereals, almonds, figs, tobacco and livestock, including sheep, pigs, cattle and goats.
Apulia produces more wine than any other Italian region usually making up around 17% of the national total. It also competes with Sicily for first place as grape producer. For a long time much of the wine made here was shipped north to Turin were it was used to make Vermouth, or to France where it was used to give structure to French wines when the local harvest was either poor or insufficient. In recent years, the winemakers and producers have begun to concentrate on producing quality wines in Apulia’s 25 DOCs, including Salice Salentino the most famous wine from the region.
Puglian wine offers a wonderful price to quality ratio and none more so than the wines of Rivera, founded in the early 1900s this winery became the driving force behind Apulia’s wine reformation. In a dynamic mode, and a sharply-focused approach to the market, with emphasis falling on developing the area’s native varieties, in order to produce wines of significant quality and distinctiveness, wines that would reflect the world of colours, of scents, of flavours that make up the land of Apulia.
Rivera’s Il Falcone is one of Apulia’s most prestigious red wines. Its name and its quality are considered by Rivera as homage to the Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, who loved to hunt with a falcon, in the countryside around his Castel Del Monte. Rivera’s top-of-the-line 2005 Il Falcone Riserva is 70% Nero di Troia and 30% Montepulciano that spent 12 months in French oak. Layers of earthiness, new leather, plums, black cherries and herbs emerge in stunning style as this full-bodied, richly-textured wine shows off its qualities. The wine possesses enough density to balance the tannins all the way through to the long finish, where a blast of melted road tar provides the final exclamation point. Simply put, this is a compelling wine from Rivera and certainly among the handful of truly important wines being made today in Puglia