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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Nicolas Belfrage MW & Franco Ziliani

Twenty-one producers from the Salento, the southern tip of Italy's heel, have formed a new association called I Grandi Vini del Salento' (the Great Wines of the Salento). The body, whose purpose is to promote and develop the wines of the provinces of Lecce, Brindisi and Taranto, includes several of the famous names from the north that have migrated to the area in the past few years, such as Antinori, Avignonesi, Giordano, GIV, Pasqua and Zonin. Among the locals are a few names associated with the development of quality wines in the area over the past couple of decades, such as Cantele and Conte Zecca. There are, however, some surprising omissions, like De Castris, Michele Cal, Rosa del Golfo, Accademia dei Racemi and all of the producers involved with the Puglian oenological consultant par excellence, Severino Garofano (the likes of Taurino, Candido, Vallone, Masseria Monaci, Cantina Sociale di Copertino). Were they approached with an eye to joining, or was their exclusion deliberate? One of the famous traditionalists told Harpers that they had, indeed, been approached, but had decided to adopt a wait-and-see posture. Another, more frank, commented that, it's a club of prima donnas; it doesn't mean anything and I'm not interested'.