San Marzano’s story began in 1962 when 19 vine growers from the village of San Marzano di San Giuseppe in south Puglia’s Salento area came together to found Cantine San Marzano. Comprised of families who had farmed the land for generations, this was their dream come true. Throughout the decades, the wine producer has grown significantly and now attracts over 1,200 top-quality vine growers.
The winery makes use of native grapes grown in the beautiful Puglian countryside, where gentle sea breezes, azure blue skies and sun-kissed vines produce ripe, juicy fruit bursting with flavour. Each of the vines is cultivated with the utmost respect for the natural rhythm of the vineyard. Puglia’s southern peninsula, which benefits from cooling winds that blow off both the Adriatic and Ionian seas, is characterised by drier land with shallow topsoil over limestone. From a vine-growing point of view, this translates into a very diverse region, incredibly rich in different red and white grape varieties, wine-making styles and, of course, wine types.
Puglia is traditionally known for being a land of reds, and this is true if one looks at the quantity produced in the region. However, over the last 30 years or so, producers have been able to experiment with their possibilities thanks to much-improved viticulture and oenology. This, paired with a quality-oriented approach, has led to a whole new world of varied wines originating from the territory’s different districts.
San Marzano is, too, one of these multi-faceted producers. Using modern vinification techniques, they create elegant and clean vintages that continue to pay homage to ancient Puglian wine traditions. This fusion of time-honoured tradition, passion and contemporary craftsmanship enables the production of wines with distinctive varietal characteristics that reflect the essence of the local terroir.
In keeping with this philosophy, San Marzano has played a central role in enhancing the value and profile of the native Primitivo grape, producing world-class wines and icon labels with it. An example, among many, is Sessantanni Primitivo di Manduria DOP – a very rich red barrel-aged for 12 months; it is well structured and velvety with a complex bouquet and stunning balance. This wine is a result of the President Mr Francesco Cavallo’s intuition, as he was determined to create a new wine that could express the authenticity of the Primitivo grape in a new and modern interpretation.
The first Sessantanni bottle is the product of the harvest of the year 2000, after the acquisition of a 40-hectare bush-vine (Alberello) vineyard that was over sixty years of age (old vines), and which was eventually renamed Valle del Sessantanni (sixty-year-old valley). The vineyard is located in the appellation Primitivo di Manduria DOP area and is characterised by red soils rich in iron oxides over a limestone subsoil. This singular vineyard has marked a turning point for the entire area. With its unique style, it has earned a reputation as a reference standard for Primitivo wines internationally.
At San Marzano, Primitivo is also the grape that makes Tramari Rosé, a fresh, crispy and pale rosé wine that is food-friendly and versatile. Flavours of fresh red berries stand out, and its saline note heralds the sea from which it originates. “Tramari,” meaning between two seas, is a charming balance between refined and casual.
As for whites, San Marzano’s top reference is Edda. Meaning “she” in the local Puglian dialect, the name references both the elegance of the wine and its packaging. Edda represents a challenge for San Marzano to produce long-lasting and complex white wines in a land known chiefly for its reds. But through superseding this challenge, Edda emerges as the feminine and sensual soul of San Marzano. It is a complex white wine full of Mediterranean nuances, possessing a noticeable acidity intertwined with an enveloping, elegant warmth and savoury and mineral notes on the palate. The Chardonnay grapes give the wine finesse and longevity, together with different varieties indigenous to Puglia that compete to complement the blend year after year.
Images, in order of appearance: Valle del Sessantanni (sixty-year-old valley); Sessantanni Primitivo di Manduria DOP; Tramari Rosé di Primitivo Salento IGP; Edda Bianco Salento IGP.