The large wine-growing region of Puglia forms the south-eastern end of eastern Italy and also includes the heel of the boot, the Salento peninsula. Together with Sicily, the approximately 350 kilometer long coastal strip provides the largest share of Italy's total wine production. However, controlled origins account for well under 10% of the total vineyard area of about 100,500 hectares. Puglia is also perhaps the oldest wine-growing region in Italy; according to research, the Phoenicians and Greeks planted vines here as early as 3000 BC. Most vineyards are located on very flat terrain near the sea with only slight day/night differences. However, in better locations, the calcareous subsoils and iron-oxide rich topsoils in the Mediterranean climate can produce interesting wines, especially reds from indigenous varieties such as Negroamaro and Uva di Troia, but also from the more rarely found Malvasia Nera. The most famous DOCG wines are Castel del Monte and Primitivo di Manduria, the best wines of the latter sometimes reminiscent of a good Zinfandel from California. In the north, however, more Montepulciano grows. Along with Tuscany, Puglia has been fairly quick to introduce IGTs, where people experiment with different grape varieties, including international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. However, a large part of Puglia's wine production is also used as blended wine for vermouth production.
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