Our retail store is open - Offering fresh growlers - Curbside orders - Email orders - Call ahead orders

Special Offer for our Clients THIS OFFER IS ***CLOSED***

Puglia ***Mixed Food & Wine Box

From the Moleskin of Jay Murrie

How it works:  Piedmont Wine Imports assembled these food-and-wine boxes, and they delivered them straight to our shop ready for you to scoop them up! The box will arrive pre-mixed, with text included. ***10 Bottles of Wine, 1 Jar of Tomato sauce, additional bottles can be added from our in stock wines for a 15% discount on those wines***

$189.99 per box! Unfortunately substitutions are not possible at this special price. All cases must be paid in full at time of ordering. Additional in stock wine can be added at a 15% discount.

Stone, cactus, sun, lizards, grapes: A tour of Puglia

In quiet moments before the pandemic took hold and diverted attention and energy to life at home, I was planning several work trips to Italy in 2020. We’ll see how much need there is for travel in the months ahead. I hope some. I do miss the people who make the wine we import. I feel connected to work when sitting at an outdoor table somewhere on a farm, tasting and listening to stories of the year’s agriculture in nearby vineyards.

Because work must be equal parts serious and joyful, I structured travel year 2020 to end with a slightly post-harvest trip to Puglia. My final destination was to be in the olive groves and vineyards of the region that resonates most loudly with my inner Italophile. It helps that there are several Puglias coexisting within the region’s long, narrow peninsula. The fertile breadbasket (or pasta bowl) of Italy, a rocky, windy coastline, wild inaccessible mountainscapes surrounded by large regional parks. It’s hard to get bored in a region littered with remote, scantly-populated beaches and forgotten seaside towns, cities hewn from stone and crowned by imposing works of medieval architecture, miles of winding dirt-and-gravel paths that lead past otherworldly stacked stone farm buildings, through orchards of plums and exotic ripe mediterranean fruits, continuing for uncharted miles in fields populated by the occasional old Puglian farmer, or errant dog. Stone, cactus, sun, lizards, grapes. It’s the perfect finish line for a year of travel, and a restorative oasis for recharging batteries before the real battle of holiday wine sales commences.

Well now all we can do is daydream. A friend and colleague suggested we travel through taste and memory in this time of isolation. When actual travel becomes a sensible activity I’ll book tickets right away. Rome, Naples, then across Campania and Basilicata by car to a quiet agriturismo just far enough from the beach to remain undented by tourism, but close enough to make freshly caught seafood and basking in the last rays of autumn warmth a part of my daily routine. The wines and foods profiled below are intended to highlight the diversity of Puglia. Pasta and tomatoes from an organic farm in the arable north, white and rosato from the stony windswept center of the peninsula, Red wine from a town made famous centuries ago by Primitivo, the region’s iconic early-ripening grape.

I Pastini Le Rotaie Susumaniello Rosato 2btls

In September of 2017 I visited i Pastini for the afternoon. It was a remarkably pleasant day. We walked through just-harvested fields surrounding the winery, and toured the perfectly restored truilli (conical stone house) that faces the winery across active train tracks. I even found a few remaining ripe figs on ancient trees near an old white stone patio undoubtedly built for the sorting of olives, grapes, maybe even grain. It was a busy day, grapes being brought into the cellar, tourists arriving at the impressive, church-like tasting area that Gianni constructed adjacent to their offices. On the short drive back to the olive farm where I was staying, I stopped at Pescheria San Andria and bought a cooler full of mussels, razor clams, oysters and (even) more frutti di mare. Late into the night, i Pastini’s Susmaniello rosato was the perfect companion while I attempted to consume a walrus-sized portion of bivalves. Light, fruity, citric, faintly saline, wonderfully thirst-quenching and enlivening. Red versions of this obscure grape often veer heavier than I prefer. With this pink iteration Gianni and Donato have made something exceptional.

I Pastini Verdeca 2btls

This single-vineyard white wine is named after the road “via Faraone” that borders the field on one side. Railway tracks border it on the other side, connecting Locorotondo and Martina Franca, poles of the val d’Itria. This north-south valley in central Puglia has constant cool airflow and a little bit of elevation, crucial factors making Faraone have snap and freshness more common in white wines made hundreds of kilometers to the north. Hard-harvested, certified organic, fermented and aged in stainless steel in a new, energy-efficient winery constructed meters away from the field. It’s a collision of ancient and modern, a grape of Greek origin that has been in Puglia for millenia, simple, honest viticulture, and technology-driven winemaking intended to preserve freshness and unblemished fruit character. Get past the obscure region and variety and you’ll find a wine that’s easy to love.

I Pastini’s Locorotondo Bianco 1btl

Heck, why not include a bottle of I Pastini’s Locorotondo Bianco as well? We have space, and this co-planted, co-fermented field blend of Verdeca (65%) Bianco di Alessano (30%) and Minutolo (5%) is distinct enough from the Faraone to deserve inclusion in our case. Serve it with seafood.

Plantamura Etichetta Rossa Primitivo 2btls.

Maybe you’ve had heavy reds made from this variety, wines that bear resemblance to the purple dense Zinfandels of California’s warmer-climate viticultural areas. Expect the opposite form this stainless steel fermented-and-aged, gulpable, moderate-in-alcohol red wine. Residents of Gioia del Colle believe Primitivo was first cultivated in Italy by a monk at the local monastery. This early-ripening grape certainly thrives in the stony fields surrounding Gioia del Colle, a hilltop town dominated by an impressive castle constructed by emperor Frederick II in 1230. Mariangela Plantamura started the winery that bears her surname in a small building behind her family’s home on the outskirts of Gioia del Colle. Her ancestors have farmed grapes for generations. The bottle storage is in a garage underneath their residence. The field “Parco Largo” where they organically farm these grapes is a short drive from her home. I’ve spent many lovely evenings with this enthusiastic, hard-working family. I’ll always remember being sent off late one chilly moonlit night from their compound with a bag full of figs presented by Mariangela’s grandfather. At dinner we’d bonded over a shared love of the fig, so abundant in Puglia that he said, “during World War II, when I was a child, all we had to eat was figs, and moscato grapes.” Yet he still enjoyed them! I was moved by his simple generosity. At that time Puglia was a region of poverty, of food scarcity. I’m glad family farms like Plantamura are charting a sustainable pathway forward in this exceptional agricultural landscape.

Morella Mezzanotte Primitivo IGP Salento 2btls.

Manduria always feels like the end of the road to me. Or maybe more accurately, the turn-around point. It makes sense that if you travel the extra distance, many kilometers on small roads down along the gulf of Taranto that you’d end up at a special place, in fields laden with ancient heirloom bush vines, immersed in a landscape that successive generations of civilizations (beginning with the Phoenecians) understood was ideal for viticulture. Warm sirocco winds from the north coast of Africa keep Morella’s vineyards dry and pest free. Australian winemaker Lisa Gilbee decided to farm biodynamically because their house is in the middle of the fields. She didn’t want to have kids trapped inside by toxic clouds, and workers exposed to the uncertain danger of synthetic vine treatments. And you really don’t need industrial farming products in a place so well-suited to grape cultivation. Sandy and coastal (the little beach resort of Campomarino is a few kilometers away) with a topography that blocks much potential threatening weather, Morella really is a hidden oasis of healthy farming and venerable old vines. The Mezzanotte is my favorite red from Puglia for cooking outdoors. Its appealing herby undertones and ripe red fruit aromas are perfect for charred animal protein, or a tasty pasta al forno. I’d recommend a spicy baked rigatoni.

Paolo Petrilli

A new shipment of Paolo’s wine and tomatoes just arrived.  It feels like the right time to fill our pantries with the certified-organic, certified-vegan foods Petrilli grows on his ancestral farm in northern Puglia.  These two ingredients (plus maybe a splash of delicious olive oil) may be the easiest home-cooked meal you prepare while sheltering in place during the pandemic.  Pair Paolo’s prunilli tomatoes and ancient-grain pasta with a bottle of his Nero di Troia-based Motta del Lupo and you have one of my top five favorite meals of all time, prepared in 30 minutes or less.  Anchovies, sardines, bread crumbs, Parmesan: there are plenty of ways to dress it up.  But the simple version is absolutely satisfying.

Paolo and his wife and two children are staying on the farm, away from their part-time home in Rome.  “Even in Italy we are wild, but we are scared,” he said.  “But we can work in the country.  There is clean air, it is better.”  Beautiful spring has arrived in Puglia.  Paolo points to the example of China, and suggests that it is essential that we remain in isolation for 1-2 months, to get COVID-19 under control.  I’m glad he has rows of vines to tend during this time.

Paolo Petrilli Tomatoes (1ea.720ml jar) 

We’re including the best jarred tomatoes you’ve ever tasted. Certified-organic and vegan whole Corbara/Prunilli tomatoes from Paolo Petrilli’s ancestral family farm in northern Puglia. Hand picked and processed in small batches on the farm at the peak of ripeness by teams of locals. Five of Italy’s ten Michelin 3-star restaurants use Paolo’s tomatoes in their kitchens. In a nation that reveres perfect primary ingredients, these are the best.

Also, a bottle of Agramante 1ea. Paolo Petrilli’s flagship red wine, a Cacce Mmitte di Lucera DOC red that is Paolo’s homage/tribute/exploration of the possibility of this often overlooked wine growing area. It’s a seamless blend of late-ripening Nero di Troia, Lucera’s great indigenous grape, and Montepulciano, Sangiovese, and Bombino. This wine comes from a drought vintage, the yields were low but the concentration and depth are exceptional. Really good stuff, and a great way to end this tour of Puglia.