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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Nicolas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani

The authorities of Regione Puglia have made an important decision in favour of the rediscovery and encouragement of its numerous indigenous vines currently at risk of being pushed towards second-class status, if not extinction, by the in-rush of international varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and even Semillon are at present being planted at a frantic rate, mainly by producers from the north who have invested in Puglia in recent years. The region has agreed a E20-million package towards the restructuring of old vineyards and the planting of new ones in which native varieties whose validity has been amply demonstrated' are, or are destined to be, predominant. Such varieties include Primitivo, Negroamaro, Uva di Troia, Fiano and Greco, but lesser-known ones like Susumaniello, Pampanuto, Ottavianello and Aleatico are also in the process of being rediscovered. The finance is offered subject to certain conditions regarding planting, training and pruning methods, the vines having to be low-trained on wires (Guyot or Cordon Spur) for ease of mechanisation, with densities between 3,000 and 6,000 plants per hectare and pruning systems aimed at low yields. In such a way, it is hoped that Puglia will be able to maintain its viticultural identity and not be transformed into a little New World of the south.