Cantina Coppola 1489 – mind-blowing Italian wine from Salento, South Italy

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We are sitting in the brand new tasting room of the Cantina Coppola (Coppola Wine Cellar) and, of course, we taste wines. Giuseppe Coppola, the owner, does not speak English but stays on the table with us and emits dignity and authority. We do not speak proper Italian either, but emit a strong will to taste wine. And maybe we look a bit weird, especially my hair looks very strange. But indeed, this wine cellar is one of the few places in this southern part of Italy where we found people speaking good English and telling us in details the story of the cellar and its wines.

The tasting room of Coppola Wine Cellar in Gallipoli, South Italy
The tasting room of Coppola Wine Cellar in Gallipoli, Salento, South Italy
Let me tell you from the beginning about the peculiarities of the working times in Salento (on the heel of the Italian boot). If you have decided to visit the winery spontaneously and taste wine, the working hours are from 9 of 12 am and from 17:30 to 19:30.
The shop and tasting room of Coppola Winery (Cantina Coppola)
The shop and tasting room of Coppola Winery (Cantina Coppola)

It is a wonderful day in September, this year the harvest season is late and has not yet started because of weather anomalies. So we are in the middle of a wonderful hot summer peacefullness. We can’t wait to start tasting. Recently I read an article in one of my favourite wine websites about the “wine folly”. The wine maddness has different faces. Some people collect corks, others collect corkscrews and we collect visits to wineries and the emotions around them.

Cantina Coppola, Gallipoli, Salento, South Italy
Cantina Coppola, Gallipoli, Salento, South Italy

Cantina Coppola – the story of a Sicilian man

The date in the name of the winery is indeed its establishment date. Even though it sounds unbelievable, this winery has been really existing for more than 500 years and has always been in the hands of the same family from Sicilian origin. In those times, Sicilian Orsino Coppola married the local descendant of a rich family Laura Cuti, so he received as dowry 8 hectares of land which he decided to plant with vineyards. Nowadays this estate is still being governed by the descendants of the Coppola family.

The modern story of the winery dates from 1948, when was the first bottling of wine. Before this wine was usually sold in bulk for mixing with other wines or for table use.

The Coppola family is involved not only in the wine production of Salento but also in the development of the tourism industry in the region. In 1965 engineer Nicolo Coppola developed the project for the first campsite in Salento – Campeggio La Vecchia Torre, which was inaugurated in 1967. Since then the family keeps investing in both wine and tourism in the region. In 2018 was opened the new building of the winery, where we are now.

The new building of Cantina Coppola, opened in 2018
The new building of Cantina Coppola, opened in 2018

The museum of wine at Coppola Winery

In the new building of Copppola Winery are kept winemaking relics, almost as old as the winery itself. Among them is a 16-th century scale from the port of Gallipoli, used to measure barrels. And also a grape press from the early 20th century, using the same technology as the contemporary machines.

16th century barrel scale from the port of Gallipoli
16th century barrel scale from the port of Gallipoli

The wine of Puglia and particularly Salento

The two main grape varieties grown in Salento are negroamaro and primitivo.

Negroamaro is one of the most popular red varieties across Puglia and especially Salento. However, it can be found almost nowhere else. If you are in Salento, almost all the local rose wines you will taste there are made from negroamaro. Very popular variety for rose wines and extremely nice in the hot summer days.

Primitivo is another red grape variety which makes wonderful red wines with high aging potential. Primitovo and the Zinfandel are actually identical varieties, together with the Croatian Plavac Veliki. It is thought that they origin from the Croatian. A curious fact is that in America they once thought of Zinfandel as the “America’s vine and wine”. But in the 1960s and 1970s research proved that Zinfandel and Primitivo are the same grape. Primitivo pairs ver well with spicy dishes with Moroccan or Turkish spices.

The wines of Cantina Coppola and the southern salty taste of Salento

Cantina Coppola is a relatively small winery. They have in total 19 hectares of vineyards, planted with primitivo, negroamaro, vermentino and chardonnay. They do not buy additional grapes and make around 100 000 bottles a year. From our quick walk across the winery we noticed the usual clean fermentation tanks, waiting for the new harvest. And, of course, the neat and cozy cellar with beautifully arranged barrels and stands for sparkling wine bottles. The latter we were secretly hoping to be able to taste.

The sparkling wine from vintage 2018, aging and waiting for its time
The sparkling wine from vintage 2018, aging and waiting for its time

Luckily, Rita, the marketing director of the wine cellar, who was also one of the few people in Salento speaking English, was also enthusiastic to show us the best of Cantina Coppola. So at lunchtime we sat around the table, already arranged with the appetizers, and waited for the “main course”.

BRUT Metodo Classico – Millesimato 2016 – white sparkling negroamaro by classical method

We love all types of wines but the most we love to taste wines that have been created by rare or unisual technologies or varieties. Coppola is the only wine cellar in Salento making white wines from the red local negroamaro variety. Besides still white wines, they also make sparkling wines by classical method. Which, besides the tender tickling bubbles, have irresistable scent of sweet fruits, maybe peach, tender acidity and a salty note. Actually, all the wines of Cantina Coppola have this salty note because the vineyards are very close to the Ionian sea coast.

BRUT Metodo Classico - Millesimato 2016 - white sparkling negroamaro by classical method
BRUT Metodo Classico – Millesimato 2016 – white sparkling negroamaro by classical method

Li Cuti 1489 Alezio DOC Rosato Negroamaro 2018

All rose wines produced in Salento (an maybe whole Puglia) are the type of rich, dark rose wines. The reason is not only in the local tastes but also in the legislation. The local legislation just does not allow winemakers to make other type of rose wines, for example the French-style pale rose wines with salmon tints. Instead the Salento rose should be pink in colour. Li Cuti 1489 Alezio DOC Rosato Negroamaro 2018 is from 100 % negroamaro with rich aroma of strawberry syrup.

Rosatto (rose wine in Italian) should be pink - as says the legislation in Salento. Li Cuti 1489 Alezio DOC Rosato Negroamaro 2018
Rosatto (rose wine in Italian) should be pink – as says the legislation in Salento. Li Cuti 1489 Alezio DOC Rosato Negroamaro 2018

Patitari Salento IGT Rosso Primitivo 2014

100 % primitivo – a classical variety for the region, which the Coppola family have turned into a jewel. We barely left it (indeed, we didn’t – we bought a bottle for home). With aromas of black fruits, marmelade, a bit of leather and smoked wood. Or maybe Maria was too overwhelmed and she wrote some random words in her notebook which she now copies. A thick wine with extremely soft tannins, matured for 2 years in oak barrels. And mindblowing (in the positive way) price of 10 EUR a bottle.

Patitari Salento IGT Rosso Primitivo 2014
Patitari Salento IGT Rosso Primitivo 2014
A small note about the barrels. In Coppola winery they use Slovenian barrels, including their traditional very huge barrels we saw during our visit to Metlika winery in 2017.
Maria is impressed by the big Slovenian barrels in Coppola Winery, Salento, South Italy
Maria is impressed by the big Slovenian barrels in Coppola Winery, Salento, South Italy

Tafuri Passito Salento IGT Rosso Primitivo e Negroamaro

Passito – this is the local term for a dessert wine. This special passito was made from negroamaro and primitivo, late harvest and dried outdoors for a few weeks. Then fermented together, without oak contact. A wonderful dessert with taste of marmelade, walnuts and some other nuts. We brought home a bottle from it, too.

Tafuri Passito Salento IGT Rosso Primitivo e Negroamaro
Recently we are very curious about dessert wines – Tafuri Passito Salento IGT Rosso Primitivo e Negroamaro, Cantina Coppola

Cantina Coppola beyond wine

In the estate of the winery they also grow olive trees and some vegetables. Almost all of the appetizers for the tastings are prepared with their own ingredients. From the shop you can buy a bottle of their olive oil.

The vegetable garden at Coppola Winery, winery in Puglia, wine cellar in Salrnto
The vegetable garden at Coppola Winery, winery in Puglia

Camping in Salento

Camping La Vecchia Torre, which we mentioned earlier, is still operating and welcoming visitors. The Coppola family also manages the luxury 4-star camping La Masseria, near Gallipoli. We have not been to either of them and do not have direct impressions, but we dream of visiting, especially the mobile homes of La Masseria. After our visit to BIG BERRY Glamping in Slovenia in 2017, we are constantly looking for similar places, preferably closer to Bulgaria. But why not Salento? So now this is one of our dreams, to reach these places in Salento. If you have been there, we will be happy to hear what you think.

Our joyful bloggers group at Cantina Coppola
Our joyful bloggers group at Cantina Coppola
And we, even more joyful after the tasting, with the owner Giuseppe Coppola
And we, even more joyful after the tasting, with the owner Giuseppe Coppola

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