Producer Profile: Inland from the Adriatic Sea, central Puglia forms the heel of Southern Italy’s boot, and within this region a small town named Sammichele di Bari rises high on a plateau known as Altopiano delle Murge, or more simply, Murgia. The town’s population is modest – around 6000 – though this is a place defined first and foremost by its agricultural past and present. The bucolic environs around Sammichele attest to such landed practices here of olive & cherry cultivation, grapevines typically farmed for local consumption or sold off to larger wineries. Cattle farming has been a specialty here, with Sammichele famous for a novelty dish called Zampina, a specific type of sausage that is the star of a local festival each year called ‘Sagra della Zampina’ or Festival of The Paw. It is here that a group of friends that had plied their trade as craft brewers decided to switch the fermentation gears and take up their dream project of farming and making natural wine together. One of the town’s old white stone farmhouses – locally known as a Masseria – had long been in the family of Marianna Pastore Bovio, and their concomitant grapevines had been farmed organically for decades though, as was common practice, their grapes were sold off rather than crafted into wine on the estate. In 2019, this changed when she and her husband – along with five friends and brewers – decided to convert the old stable house (for cattle!) into a fermentation cellar, and to farm three hectares of their estate for the production of natural wine, with fresh and wild takes on local classics, such as their Primitivo. Though undoubtedly – despite being only 2 years old! – the watermark of the wines of Masseria La Cattiva is adventure and daring. They hold the honor of having crafted Italy’s first canned natural wine (a fizzy canning of macerated Trebbiano), while also trying their hand at ‘smoked’ wine, smoking at low temperatures small percentages of grapes in co-fermentations. These are some of the most exciting wines being made in all of Italy’s southern Adriatic coast – devilishly delicious bottles with flair for days.
Vinification & Tasting Notes: Montepulciano & Primitivo. Grapes are hand-harvested, gently crushed, given a brief maceration with the skins, and then pressed into stainless steel. Fermented with wild yeasts and aged for 1 year in tank, followed by bottling unfined, unfiltered with no SO2. Super cloudy and neon pink in the glass, this is a low-ABV (only 10%!), tart banger of a bottle. Meant to be guzzled, not contemplated!