Sons of a Lesser God: Sparkling Wines From Almost Unknown Grapes: Bombino Bianco

12th January 2024

Sons of a Lesser God Sparkling Wines From Almost Unknown Grapes Bombino Bianco

Wandering around the South of Italy we reach Puglia region, famous for the red grape Primitivo aka Zinfandel: let’s talk about Bombino Bianco, a white variety, suitable for making classic method wines. Bombino Bianco is widely cultivated in the province of Foggia and especially in the surroundings of San Severo, where it constitutes an immense wine-growing area, but also in the Gargano and in the Lucera area. We also find this grape in Basilicata, Molise, Lazio and Emilia Romagna: in this region, it is called ‘pagadebit’ which means ‘able to earn money to pay debts’, because it is a vigorous variety. It probably has a Spanish origin, but it has been present in Italy since immemorial times. It is common to blend Bombino Bianco with red varieties to obtain rosè wines and, with other white grapes, to make fragrant and pleasant wines.

In Puglia, Bombino Bianco is vinified in purity and the result is a straw yellow wine, with a clean taste. Due to the large size of the Bombino Bianco bunches, it is necessary pruning, to avoid weakening the plants. It is characterized by very high productivity and grows best on dry, light, siliceous or calcareous soils, well exposed on the hills. As budding is late, it is performing in the territory where frost in spring is possible. The grape is sensitive to the rain that falls during flowering and the flowers can abort and also to downy mildew.

San Severo is famous for its wine production and its name comes to the legendary Greek hero, Diomedes, who arrived in the Daunia region and built the city in honor of his wife Drionia.

Two wineries produce amazing sparkling wines from Bombino Bianco.

D’Arapri Winery is located in San Severo, in the province of Foggia. In 1979 three friends Girolamo D’Amico, Louis Rapini and Ulrico Priore had the great idea to produce sparkling wines with the native grape: the name of the winery is composed of the initials of their three names.

There are two structures: the first one, called Vendangerie is open from September to March and the old cellar, where the bottles are positioned on the pupitres, is in an historical palace of the 700s and the tourists are welcomed right here.

Beneath the historical building, an underground area extends for approximately 1000 m2 and it was the place where two Italian Risorgimental heroes, Morelli and Silvati, were imprisoned.

Brut D’Araprì from Bombino Bianco and a small part of Pinot Noir, cultivated on the argillous-calcareous soils in contrada San Biase, between San Matteo and Cotinone, is a classic method sparkling wine, 24 months on the lees. Dosage 5 gr/liter. Brilliant straw yellow color, olfactory notes of white flowers, herbal, white peach, apple and pastry. Creamy mousse, medium alcohol and body, medium flavor intensity and finish.

Pas Dosé D’Araprì from the same blend, 30 months on the lees, is a very elegant wine with vibrant acidity and citrus notes: It is perfect as an aperitif or with raw fish.

Cantine Re Dauno is located in the center of the old town of San Severo, in a building dated 1927. Angelina Radatti and Francesco Toma decided in 2013 to follow their passion of producing sparkling wines.

VSQ Brut Classic Method is a vintage sparkling wine from 100% Bombino Bianco grapes, 24 months on the lees. Luminous straw yellow color, it shows hints of white peach, acacia flower, honey, and bread crust; the bubbles are numerous, fine and persistent. Salty notes at the end.

VSQ Pas Dosè is a vintage sparkling wine too, from 100% Bombino Bianco, 24 months on the lees. Straw yellow color with greenish reflections; at the nose citrus fruits, tropical fruits and almonds. Fine bubbles and good acidity, elegant and persistent.

It would be a great idea to spend the Summer holidays in the beautiful Puglia and visit those wineries! Not only red or rosè wines in this region to discover, for an amazing experience!

Olga Sofia Schiaffino

Winelover, Sommelier, wine blogger WSET Level 3 passed with distinction. Sparkling wine addict.