Castel di Salve: living the winery experience in the most southern point of Puglia Salentina
Discover the pleasant atmosphere of Castel di Salve, a well-known vineyard in the Apulian area that welcomes visitors from across the world.
Francesco and Riccardo Winspeare, fourth and fifth generation producers, welcome us to Depressa, a peaceful community located in the Salento countryside near Tricase and a stone's throw from Capo di Leuca: a land of passage for many travelers, as Riccardo himself defines it. Riccardo, who is just over twenty years old, is in charge of the company's commercial and reception departments, a position that encouraged him to stay rather than accept the various job offers that were opening up.
The father, Francesco, keeps up with the business's technical side, but it is evident that he is happy to put the company's future in capable hands. Francesco himself amused us with a passionate account of the family saga that brought the Winspeares from England to Naples and, later, to the magnificent Puglia region, where they established roots in 1868. Their first wine was bottled in 1885.
Antonio Winspeare, who arrived in Salento as the province's prefect in 1879, is responsible for the cellar's structure. Riccardo Winspeare, respectively Francesco and Riccardo's father and grandfather, was able to enhance and publicize the winery by overcoming several communication hurdles, including the roads that confined this part of Italy at the time. He was able to promote the vineyard by using self-made road markers that were strategically positioned so that Depressa became a well-known oenologic landmark. The restoration work on the building, which was finished 32 years ago, was completed by Francesco.
Today, Castel di Salve is a 31-hectare company with a production of 170,000 bottles ranging from a basic line dedicated to the "Santi Medici" - the country's patron saints - to an intermediate line, up to labels destined for greater evolution, for a range that plays on indigenous Verdeca, Negramaro, Malvasia Nera expressed in purity, but also creates courageous and expressive blends with other southern Italy varieties. One example is the Lama del Tenente, a blend of Primitivo, Montepulciano, and Malvasia Nera aged for a year in Allier French oak barrels.
The producing and administrative approach maintains an artisanal care: visiting Castel di Salve allows visitors to retrace the entire operational cycle of the winery, beginning with a visit to the adjacent Fiano vineyard, a very recent company experiment that is demonstrating an excellent grape variety capacity adaptation in the Depressa terroir; from the grape harvesting process, to processing and refinement, touching the pulsating soul of the product.
Those who visit the cellar in mid-September, like us, may observe that the Negramaro is used to invigorate the yeasts without the use of additives, leading them to emerge in their natural aromatic expression. The tour continues in the evocative barrel room and ends with a wine tasting in the welcoming area adjacent to the wine shop, which is built to handle big groups of tourists. The tasting does not follow a defined timetable, but is created based on the host's interest, ranging over the twelve brands that comprise the company's portfolio.
For those who enjoy an aperitif at sunset, a terrace has been constructed on top of a fermentation tank. It is surrounded by an irrigation pipe railing and is shaded by a canopy made of bamboo harvested from the garden: nothing extraneous and superfluous, simplicity and concreteness, with a pacifying view of the vineyard.
Direct sales represent an important share of company revenues, thanks to purchases in the cellar and the presence of 2 other sale points, in Tricase and Supersano. Castel di Salve enhances its visitors' valuable intangible heritage by making them part of a community that is given the opportunity to join the wine club, with offers, events, tasting of old vintages, and occasions for art and conviviality, such as those that populate the splendid courtyard in the summer season, formerly used for grape unloading and now used as a welcome place for visitors.
The creative activities in the court have become a must-see for Castel di Salve visitors: like the energetic concert by Baba Sissoko, which filled Depressa's court and streets with the sounds of Mali; all the elegance of a historic cellar, created within the town yet open to international influences in every way.