Luigi Rubino has a close connection to the vineyards of his family's winery, Tenute Rubino, in Puglia.
Life in sun-soaked Puglia moves at a sensual and soul-affirming pace. Located in the south of Italy, Puglia is often deemed "the heel of the boot" that describes Italy's topographical shape. Whether it is a sexy designer boot or a functional work shoe, let's not forget that it is the heel that provides strength and balance. Strength and balance also describe the superb Puglian wines of Tenute Rubino.
The Tenute Rubino dream team - winemaker Luca Petrelli and power couple Romina Leopardi & Luigi Rubino.
Truly a family affair, the Tenute Rubino story began in the 1980's when Tommaso Rubino's belief in the Salento region of Puglia to produce exceptional wines led him on a journey that culminated in the acquisition of four estates. In 1999, Tommaso's vision became reality when his son Luigi, and Luigi's wife Romina Leopardi, started the Tenute Rubino brand. Headquartered in Brindisi, Tenute Rubino is not just respected locally but is a global brand that exports more than 70% of its 1.2 million bottles of wine abroad.
Tenute Rubino is a leader in producing quality wines from the native Puglian grapes Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Susumaniello.
Grapes are expertly picked with care and accuracy during the Women's Harvest at Tenute Rubino's estate in Jaddico, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Yes, Tenute Rubino's production numbers are impressive but after spending time with Luigi and Romina, I was most captivated by their passion for producing exceptional wines from native Puglian grapes, commitment to honoring the culture and people of Puglia, and their loving and collaborative partnership. My September visit coincided with Tenute Rubino's 10th annual La Vendemmia delle Donne (Women's Harvest), a celebration of Puglia's rich winemaking tradition and the dynamic women of Tenute Rubino.
Tenute Rubino's Women's Harvest is a multi-generational celebration of Puglian culture and viticulture.
On the day of the Women's Harvest, a team of professional women harvesters work together alongside novices to hand pick the Susumaniello grapes - a local and ancient Puglian red wine grape that is a star of the Tenute Rubino portfolio. After the harvest, the women are serenaded by musicians performing traditional Puglian songs and everyone gathers together to sing, dance, play games, eat local cuisine, and sip plenty of Tenute Rubino wines. I highly recommend adding a trip to Puglia and Tenute Rubino's Women's Harvest celebration to your travel wish list. Until then, let their widely available wines add a touch of sensual Puglian sunshine to your day, no matter where you are.
Tenute Rubino "Giancóla" Malvasia Bianca 2016 ($12)
Produced from 100% Malvasia Bianca grapes, this elegant and aromatic white wine balances luscious ripe fruit flavors with vibrant acidity and a touch of minerality. A great match with seafood.
Tenute Rubino "Saturnino" Negroamaro Rosato 2016 ($12)
Rosé all day the Puglian way with this charming rosato wine made from 100% Negroamaro grapes. One of Puglia's most important wine grapes, Negroamaro is renowned for producing big and complex full-bodied red wines. Saturnino shows off the softer side of Negroamaro in this intensely fruity rosé with flavors of fresh cherry and violets that are bolstered by lively acidity and tinges of minerality. Saturnino paired perfectly with this platter of local cured meats and cheeses from Tenute Rubino's charming waterfront enoteca in Brindisi, Numero Primo.
Tenute Rubino "Marmorelle" Rosso ($18)
Mostly Negroamaro with a kiss of Malvasia Nera, this artful red wine beautifully intertwines deep rich fruit flavors with touches of spice and cocoa. A great match with meat and tomato-based pasta dishes.
Tenute Rubino "Punta Aquila" ($17)
Of course, you can't talk about Puglian wine without discussing the region's most famous vino - big, spicy, and bold Primitivo. Sometimes Primitivo sacrifices finesse for power but Punta Aquila balances strength with grace. A wine with plenty of personality, Punta Aquila is an elegant tapestry of rich fruit, spice, and herbal flavors.
Tenute Rubino "Torre Testa" Susumaniello 2013 ($45)
The melodically named Susumaniello was brand new to me but it is actually an ancient grape from the Brindisi region and Tenute Rubino is leading the way in introducing its charms to the world. Traditionally used as a blending grape, Tenute Rubino has proven that Susumaniello has what it takes to stand on its own. An intriguing melange of ripe fruit, savory spice, fine tannins, and robust acidity, Torre Testa opens up beautifully in the glass and displays tremendous aging potential - a really special wine.
Even I joined in a bit of harvesting during La Vendemmia delle Donne!
The best wines aren't just well-crafted but are the catalyst for an emotional response. From now on, any sip of a Tenute Rubino wine will transport me back to those beautiful sunny days in Puglia; dancing, singing, and living life to the fullest. Even if you've never visited Puglia, Tenute Rubino's beautiful wines evoke the passion of this very special place.