“In terms of vineyard area (approx. 1,800 hectares) Nero di Troia, also called Uva di Troia, is the third most important of Puglia’s native black grape vines after Negroamaro and Primitivo.
If Negroamaro, grown in the provinces of Brindisi and Lecce, is the most important of all the denominations of origin in the Salento and Primitivo identifies the labels produced in the province of Taranto, Nero di Troia has its ideal terroir in the province of Foggia and in the northern part of the province of Bari. This trio of black grape varieties express all the rich diversity of Puglia’s wine-growing sector.
The origins of Nero di Troia are uncertain, a mixture of sparse scientific data and plenty of legends. Its name provides the first clue, because it links to the legend of how fugitives from the destruction of Homer’s mythical city of Troy, led by the Greek hero Diomedes, landed on the banks of the River Ofanto on the Tavoliere plain.
Alfonso Germinario, agricultural historian, tells how “the exiled hero sailed across the Adriatic and up the Ofanto. Here he found an ideal place, and anchored his ship using blocks of stone from the walls of Troy which he had brought with him. He also used the same blocks to mark the boundaries of the Diomedean fields. One of these is still to be seen between Barletta and Canosa, and is known as the Menhir of Canne. The Greek hero probably brought with him as a reminder… those vine shoots which, planted on the Ofanto, lie at the origins of Uva di Troia”.
This is the legend and like all legends it contains some elements of truth. It now seems certain, as ascertained by wine researchers like Prof. Attilio Scienza of Milan University, that the vine originated in the Adriatic area. Analysis of “haplotype” frequency has revealed that Nero di Troia is genetically close to a group of varieties belonging to the Adriatic cultural area. Even its name may have originated from the Albanian city of Cruja, locally translated as “Troy”.
Vine and wine characteristics
Due to incorrect propagation methods, aimed above all at obtaining high yields per hectare, there is a great deal of variability in Nero di Troia’s ampelographic features. In the vineyards two main expressions of this variety exist, which cannot be defined as clones because of the absence of research: the more widespread “ruvese” with large berries and a tighter fruit cluster was preferred in the past for its high yields per hectare, whereas “canosina” with smaller berries and looser clusters is probably the older version of the variety, less productive and nowadays less common. However, it is “canosina” which receives more attention from research aimed at producing wines of a higher quality.
In terms of development (growth process) the variety can be defined as late, especially in relation to the ripening of the grapes (from mid- to late October). This differentiates Nero di Troia from Puglia’s two other black grape varieties – Negroamaro and especially Primitivo – which ripen decidedly earlier (Primitivo at the end of August and Negroamaro in mid-September).
Nero di Troia wine has a lively colour and an elegantly fresh bouquet with typical hints of violets; it is not particularly acidic on the palate, but is rich in polyphenols and especially tannins, which may become overpowering if the wine comes from grapes which are not perfectly ripe. The small-berry variety has a high ratio of skin to flesh and the grapes themselves are fleshier. This allows a later harvest and a more complete ripening process for the grapes, with the consequence that its wines have a more intense colour and softer tannins.
Nero di Troia has given an important contribution to development of the Castel del Monte area of Puglia. In addition, the rediscovery of Nero di Troia and its territory has also drawn attention to other lesser known native varieties like Bombino Bianco and Bombino Nero, both long underrated although they produce delightful wines.” – Wines of Puglia