The story of this beautiful estate began at the turn of the 19th century when Antonio Leo started to vinify the grapes grown on his estate, Masseria Monticello, which included 20 hectares of vineyards. In the early 1920s Antonio passed on his passion and business to his grandson, Paolo Leo and, in the early 1950s, the fourth generation of the Leo family took over the business, re-planting the family’s 20 hectares of vines. As a very young adult in the early 1980’s, Paolo Leo, the fifth generation of Leos to own the estate, had a dream – to follow the footsteps of his father and great grandfather and build a modern, state-of-the-art winery in San Donaci. Investments in the winery has been consistent since its creation and the winery today has a total capacity of 50,000 hectolitres, a new and fully-automated bottling line and over 500 French and American oak barriques for the ageing of the wines. The philosophy at Feudo Paolo Leo is to be in perfect harmony with nature, intervening only when absolutely necessary, thus ensuring that each grape expresses its natural and unique personality.
Winemaker Alessandro Michelon grew up in Trentino, northern Italy. His love of winemaking developed in his younger years, when he would help his family in their own vineyards of Valle di Cembra. His passion for the vineyards and the winemaking was so strong that he decided to attend the Istituto Agrario di San Michele, the most well-known oenological school for Italian winemakers, where he got his graduation in 1998. After working at some major wineries in Italy, he joined Cantine Paolo Leo in 2009.
Salice Salentino is one of the 25 DOC wines produced in Puglia. The wine is a blend, using mainly Negroamaro with a small proportion of Malvasia Nera. Paolo Leo’s Salice Salentino vineyard includes four hectares of inter-planted Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera plants, all trained using the typical ‘Alberello Pugliese’ method. The vineyard lies near the town of Salice Salentino, about 9km from the Ionian Sea. Plant density is around 5,000 plants per hectare, with an average yield of 1.8 kg per plant.
The grapes are harvested manually in mid-September and placed in wooden crates of 15kg each. In the winery, the grapes are de-stemmed and delicately crushed to minimise damage to the skin. The grapes are subsequently macerated for 12 to 15 days at a controlled temperature of around 18C. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature of 25C for approximately eight days. Frequent remontage and delestage are carried out to maximise extraction of aromas and gentle tannins. After racking, malolactic fermentation is induced. The wine is then aged for 18 months in stainless steel tanks and months in large oak casks and for six months in bottle prior to release.
An intense shade of ruby red, with reflections of dark orange, their Salice Salentino Riserva has unique aromas of red berries and fresh herbs. Dry on the palate, it is well-balanced and full-bodied, with lasting flavours of dried fruits.