Susumaniello, ancient Pugliese grape

By Marco Giovanetti

Puglia is better known for Negroamaro and Primitivo wines but have you ever heard of Susumaniello wines?

Not long ago, I discovered this Pugliese vine variety and must say that “impressed” falls short of my enthusiasm for the variety.

Susumaniello is an autochthonous vine of Puglia. An ancient vine with a  Dalmatian lineage  that don’t really explain how  it landed  in Puglia particularly  in the area of the high Brindisi area almost on the border with the first townships of the province of Bari.


Historically, Susumaniello was mainly employed  in blends with other  local varieties of the area but lately it has been rediscovered  in some very interesting pure vinifications. The grape name derive from its vigor when allowed to grow unchecked  by pruning or other limiting vineyard techniques.  Apparently, the vine can carry a big  load like a donkey, which most likely made it popular as a key factor for  much of the bulk wine production for which Puglia was known in the past.  That vigor reduces dramatically  after the vine is ten-years old, which may be one of the reasons for its near extinction.  That decrease in vigor also may be one of the reasons for the renewed interest in the grape.

The wines of Cristiano Guttarolo are not new to me and are quite popular among natural wine lovers in Montreal.  Cristiano’s approach  on Puglia’s native varieties such as  Primitivo and Negroamaro is quite special..

Isolated  from the plains which often produce hot and overripe wines, here vines sit on a mountain of fossilised limestone close to  four hundred meters above sea level and are graced  from the unique climate in which they live. It is chillier than usual in the daytime thanks to strong winds from the sea, while the site’s elevation offers an interesting interval  between temperatures day and night, allowing the grapes to ripen fully while retaining freshness and finesse.

I love the wines of Cristiano, they have a balance and finesse rarely found among many Pugliese wines at the SAQ. Vineyard work is top notch and everything is done with a hands approach.

Cristiano Guttarolo. Susumaniello 2017. $50.05 ( Private Import, Importer Glou- Case of 6)

An stunning nose revealing slowly delicious nuances of licorice with violets complemented by  dry meat with a ravishing minerality. Sensual flavours of strawberry and raspberry add to the mix with caressing tannins and a long finale. Refined and elegant, one of a kind wine. Buy and drink within the next 7-10 years.