Cultivated under the names Acchiappapalmento and Bianco di Lessame as well, Bianco d'Alessano is of uncertain origin, but in all likelihood it has always been grown promiscuously with other varieties, such as Verdeca in the Valle d'Itria. Non-aromatic and with neutral flavours, it develops a conical-cylindrical cluster, with one or no wings, and berries of consistent yellow. It flowers early but ripens medium-late. It is tolerant of a range of climates and soils, and is fairly disease resistant. Bianco d'Alessano was one of the first varieties to be grafted onto American rootstocks after the phylloxera crisis, and today, along with Verdeca, it is one of the mainstays of the earliest Valle d'Itria DOPs, such as Locorotondo and Martina Franca. It is rarely produced as a monovarietal, but it is used to make wines that are crisp and pleasant, though not intended for ageing.
Bombino Bianco is widely cultivated in various Regions of Italy, and under many synonyms, many of which, such as Buttapalmento, Stracciacambiali, and Pagadebit, refer to other high-producing varieties, a conclusion now widely-accepted although lacking definitive, generically-based proof.
Fiano, also known as Latino and Apiano, goes back to the Roman period; according to some, its name derives from the Latin apianus (bee) because of the bees’ preference for its sweet grapes, or, more probably, from the town of Apia, today Lapia, in the Avellino area. It has been in Puglia many centuries. In fact, Swabian Emperor Frederick II, known as Puer Apuliae, or Child of Puglia, enjoyed the wine, and a parchment dated 28 March 1240 contains an order to the cook to bring more Fiano upon the monarch’s arrival in Foggia. Fiano is early-ripening, vigorous, and quite adaptable to local environments. It displays a medium-small, pyramidal cluster, winged and compact, with small, green-yellow berries that develop brown spots at ripeness. Phylloxera almost resulted in the elimination of this variety from Puglia, in favour of other heavier-producing blending grapes, but quality cultivation has returned it to favour, and Fiano is experiencing a true renaissance, with new vineyards being continuously planted from north to south in the Region.
Among the 18 Malvasia varieties in the Italian National Winegrape Registry, Malvasia Bianca, along with Nera (of Brindisi-Lecce), is traditionally identified with Puglia. It develops a compact, medium-sized, pyramidal cluster with large berries of greenish-tinged yellow and a very thick skin. Medium-early ripening, it displays fairly good resistance to the main fungal diseases and weather-related problems. Malvasia Bianca is grown throughout Puglia and is included in various DOP production codes, including San Severo, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, and Lizzano. The wines are elegantly aromatic.
This is the Moscato Bianco grape, one of most widely-cultivated varieties in Italy and across Puglia as well, where it boasts a very ancient history that is identified primarily--but not only--with the commune of Trani, in the province of Bari, where it is known by its synonym Moscato Reale. The grape here was so highly prized by 13th-century Venetian merchants that they signed an agreement with the Conte di Trani, Roberto d’Anjou, who agreed to put limitations on exports of it to ports not under control of Venice.
Later, in 1792, Vincenzo Corrado, one the Kingdom of Naples’ most outstanding culinary experts, sang the praises of this Puglia grape. Moscato Reale has a cylindrical-pyramidal cluster that can be compact, loose or semi-loose, and usually winged; the thin-skinned berry appears a greenish-yellow that turns golden with its exposure to the sun. The most widespread versions of the grape are certainly the sweeter biotypes, and among them the most celebrated, whose history is noted above, is that linked with the Moscato di Trani DOP.
While the origin of Verdeca is uncertain, it is certainly a grape of venerable age. Pugliese author Prospero Rendella used the term Verdeca of Gravina as early as 1629 in a treatise on grapevines and wine.
Verdeca is cultivated primarily in the Valle d'Itria, a karst depression in the centre of three provinces, Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto, generally along with the Bianco d'Alessano variety. The cluster is medium-sized, conical, and winged, while the whitish-green berry has a medium-thick skin and juicy pulp. It ripens medium-early and shows good resistance to the main vineyard pests and diseases. In the past, Verdeca was mainly utilised for the production of liqueur wines traditional to the area and of vermouth; today, it is the primary variety of Valle d’Itria DOPs such as Locorotondo and Martina Franca, and monovarietal wines are also being produced.