Synergy in the Salento

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l'archetipo winery Puglia southern ItalyPuglia has an amazing food culture going back centuries. This, three UNESCO sites, 500 miles of coastline, and upwards of 45,000 olive trees mean it has a lot to capture hearts. And the wine- a slew of wine grapes, many indigenous to Puglia are thriving. It also has wine philosopher Francesco Dibenedetto at his l’archetipo winery in the Taranto province.

L'Archetipo Francesco Dibenedetto

Francesco Dibenedetto explaining why he farms utilizing synergistic viticulture.

Dibenedetto started l’archetipo in 2010 after years of farming organically and biodynamically. A severe health issue resulted in his exploration of alternative healing methods. This blossomed into an inquiry about soil, vine, and overall winery health. The result? A synergistic approach to viticulture and very nice wines.

My recent l’archetipo visit with Radici del Sud was enlightening, or should I say philosophical. Francesco’s passion is commendable, a man understanding that we have one body and one world and need to take care of both.

What Is Synergistic Agriculture?

Organic yes, biodynamic, sort of. It’s much more. It’s synergy with all other organisms. Now don’t run off! This gets interesting.

All About The Soil

Synergistic methods resemble what occurs in a forest, where nature grows, dies, falls to the ground, and returns everything back to the soil. l’archetipo plants beneficial crops between vines and a phenomenon called “surface composting” occurs. It’s nothing more than a sequence, albeit complicated, of biological transformations. It starts with any organic substance (plant or animal matter) that falls to the ground, decomposes and eventually becomes humus. Nothing is added to the soil because it creates its own microbe-rich microsystem. No digging, tilling, or external inputs. Nothing. Just nature.  

Puglia Italy wine L'Archetipo

l’archetipo utilizes the soil’s natural fertility and maintains that fertility through natural processes rather than human intervention. They have 20 hectares of vineyards at 320 meters (just over 1,000 feet) in elevation at the foot of the Murgia plateau outside of Bari.

Right about here is where you could question some of these practices but a plausible example is given.

When you bring a cow into a feedlot often times they get sick and require antibiotics. On the other hand, if you leave it in pasture in open air with untreated grasses they are mostly healthier.

If plants are in balance the incidence of disease, mold, and rot is generally lower thus the need to apply products, even organic, is less.

The Wines

It’s apparent from my Puglia trip the region presents a surprising patrimony of biodiversity with many indigenous grape varieties. l’archetipo grows several; a few we tasted follow. 

All their vineyards are certified organic with ICEA (Institute for Ethical and Environmental Certification). Fermentation is via indigenous yeasts and minimal sulfates are used. Disclaimer: The wines were provided as samples; all thoughts and opinions my own.

~ Marasco Brut Nature 2016 Salento IGP | 12% abv ~

100% Maresco (Note the grape is formerly called Maruggio, it’s so old and in such small quantities it wasn’t on the Italian Wine Grape Registry but was recently added.)

L'Archetipo Marasco Brut Nature Puglia

Wow! Just wow! It’s a high acid grape and maintains that acid in warmer climates late into the season.

A forty day low temperature fermentation on skins followed by two months in sealed tank with lees stirring results in flowery brioche, nectarine, pineapple, and ripe green apple aromas. The flavors are unbelievably pure and fresh gaining apple, lemon and faint salinity. Well made and balanced, both the fine mousse and length lasted. This wine is made via Metodo Ancestrale.

~ Verdecca Sette Lune 2015 Salento IGP | 11.5% abv ~

100% Verdeca from two hectares of twenty-two year old vines – bold and different!

Verdeca grape Italy Gioia del Colle PugliaMade in a reductive style with seven months maceration on skins, the juice was pressed then put into a stainless tank for two years with lees stirring every fifteen days. This is what’s called an “orange” wine.

Lemon gold in color, honeyed and flinty notes accentuate the dried stone fruit aromas. It is medium acid, full-bodied, and rich in extract and tannins. The palate marries textural acidity with a mix of dried citrus and stone fruits finishing dry and flinty.

This would pair nicely with seafood or meats, especially asian in nature without heat, and with curries and certain Thai dishes.

~ Negro Amaro Niuru Maru – Salento IGP 2015 | 13% abv ~

100% Negro Amaro from two hectares of seventeen year old vines – a brooding wine.

Negro Amaro wine grape indigenous PugliaNegro Amaro is one of three flagship red grapes in Puglia (Primitivo and Nera di Troia are the other two). Here a twenty-five day fermentation on the skins is followed by aging in stainless vats on lees for six months. The wine is pressed then put into large wooden barrels for three months.

Ripe dark boysenberry and black cherry fruits dominate with nuances of aromatic dried herbs and clove. Tannins are fine grained with a dusty feel and perfectly balanced with the acidity that smoothly slides into home plate. This is an easy to drink, fine quality wine.

~ Primitivo Mistico Salento IGP – 2013 | 16% abv ~

100% Primitivo from six hectares of fifteen year old vines – fruit and spice.

Primitivo PugliaAnother twenty-five day fermentation on the skins but this wine ages in large barrels on lees for twelve months followed by six months in bottle.

A mixed berry bowl of aromas jump out of the glass. The rustic, chewy, and bright palate leans toward forest spice and soil that smooths with lasting length. Amazed at the freshness! The grapes stayed longer on the vines, drying slightly as they matured, and harvest took place a month later that usual. They only do this in certain years.

Our visit to l’archetipo moved from tasting to dinner prepared by Dibenedetto’s daughter.


Puglia l'architepo winery #terroirpuglia #weareinpuglia I thanked her as we left sharing it’s not every day you get to enjoy a home made, authentic Italian meal with the very family that made the wine. She was quick to add every ingredient came from the l’archetipo farm with the exception of the flour, from which she made pasta and focaccia.

I know I’ll search for these wines to share with my friends, and perhaps cook a bit of Italian food too.

Alla prossima volta! Until the next time!

Should you wish to acquire  these wines outside of Italy, distributors are as follows:

16 thoughts on “Synergy in the Salento

  1. Kay

    Q What does the word mousse in this context mean?
    “Well made and balanced, both fine mousse and length lasted,” relative to the Marasco


    1. Lynn Post author

      Mousse refers to the chain of fine bubbles of trapped carbon dioxide that develops as part of the sparkling wine / champagne making process. These bubbles are often referred to as “mousse”. Fine, persistent chains of bubbles coming from the base of glass are desired and sometimes leave a faint, creaminess on top. To distinguish between fine and not so fine, compare a nicer sparkling wine (perhaps Schramsberg or Roederer is easy for you to get?) with an inexpensive super market option. Pour them both into a glass and observe the bubbles. Hope this helps Kay!

  2. Lauren

    I learned so much reading this post! I’d never heard of synergistic agriculture before so all of that was new to me; then there were the wines! Each sounds delicious, but the sparkler really caught my attention. Sounds like an educational and satisfying visit. Cheers Lynn!

    1. Lynn Post author

      It was very educational, and like you I hadn’t heard of synergistic agriculture/viticulture.At l’archetipo they incorporate other items too. If you feel compeled, their internet site has a great deal of information. The sparkler?!? Highly recommend it!

    1. Lynn Post author

      It was a very nice line up, and educational to taste through these lesser known grapes. So you like that… wine philosopher!

  3. Greig Santos-Buch

    Had never heard of Synergistic agriculture before. It does sound similar to biodynamic in terms of being in harmony with all of the associated organisms, and I love the terroir focus, This was a really nice piece covering an often overlooked region! I’ve been wanting to visit Puglia for a long time and l’archetipo sounds like a nice place to visit. Impressive to see all they’ve accomplished in a relatively short period!

    1. Lynn Post author

      If you want to dig into synergistic agriculture, I know l’archetipo will welcome you! Can’t say enough about Puglia (and the Bari/Gioia del Colle areas)!

  4. Robin Bell Renken

    “Synergistic Agriculture” was new for me too. I am enjoying mulling over this concept of no intervention in the vineyard, how that would affect the grapes, working on their own to become as tasty as possible for birds etc. I will go to their website to learn more!
    I was particularly interested in the Verdecca Sette Lune. I have been enjoying more and more orange wines lately (they seem really perfect for fall).
    Beautifully written and chock full of great information! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Lynn Post author

      I’m hearing more and more about this agricultural approach. It’s making sense to people, and I know from tasting l’archetipo wines, they are definitely good! Hope you’re able to find the Sette Lune to taste, worth the search.

  5. Allison Wallace

    You took me back in my memories–absolutely loved Puglia! I only wish had more time to have experienced what you did (this was pre-AdVINEtures days). Definitely would love to get back…!

    1. Lynn Post author

      Perhaps a future trip for you?!? BTW, RyanAir will begin non-stops from Bordeaux to Bari starting April 2019 ;-D

  6. Casey

    Wow I’ve never heard of Synergistic Agriculture before! Thanks so much for the insights Lynn. I also really want to get my hands on some of that Brut Nature now too 😉

    1. Lynn Post author

      It’s certainly a bubbly treat and I so enjoy learning about and tasting wines made with lesser known grapes. Hope you’re able to find some Casey!

  7. Brooke

    I have yet to make it to Puglia but it’s been on my list for many years-not only for wine reasons (though almost everything I do has food-wine involved hello 19 year wine industry veteran…) but also for the gorgeous scenery and food and the fact that it’s less impacted by tourism than some regions. This is fantastic deep dive into Puglian wines.

    1. Lynn Post author

      Being a food and wine person you’ve got to get there! And yes to the scenery (and underground caves). I especially loved the simplicity of things. Something to be said for keeping it simple.


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