With nearly 2 million acres under vine, Italy produces more wines, from more varietals, blends and styles, than any other nation.

There are 20 official wine regions in Italy — 18 on the peninsula plus the 2 islands of Sicily and Sardinia. It is estimated that 2000 grape varietals can be found there, both indigenous and from around the world.

A region of Italy often overlooked and now receiving more attention is Puglia, aka Apulia, which runs along the coastline of the Adriatic Sea for 220 miles (“heel” of Italy). The sun-drenched area is known for scattered fishing villages, ancient harbors, glorious cathedrals, and bulk wine — sold to cooperatives in the north. But that’s changing, at least the bulk wine part, as a younger generation seeks to make estate bottled wines from grapes indigenous to Puglia. The results are exciting, with new (old) wines from Nero di Troia and Primitivo grapes, at modest prices.

Several wines from Puglia that stood out at VINO 2011 are: Pirro Varone 2008, Nero Di Troia “Filotorto” 2008, and Rosso Salento “Quota 31” 2008.