Tomaresca Leading Puglia’s Wine Renaissance Lunch and Learn

Tomaresca and a glass of their Chardonnay
Tomaresca and a glass of their Chardonnay

Tomaresca is a winery named for the ancient seaside towers of Puglia and is trying to make the world notice and appreciate the quality of their wines.  The winery works with the Antinori family which has over 625 years of winemaking experience in Italy.  All of Tormaresca’s wines are crafted with 100% estate-grown fruit, which covers two estates. Grapes and wine have been grown and made in Puglia for 3000 years which is well before wine and grapes spread across the rest of Italy.

The region of Puglia is located at the heel of the boot of Italy.  This region is listed as the “Top Wine Destination of 2013” by Wine Enthusiast. It is a region of sunshine and cool sea breezes growing native grape varieties.  The indigenous grapes that make the wines of Tomaresca are primarily Negroamaro, which produces a dark rich wine with deep ruby colour, velvety round, and pleasantly bitter taste, Primitivo, the grape genetically related to Zinfandel in the United States, Aglianico, a grape with high tannins and acidity that can produce complex wines with long cellar ageing potential and has been called the Barolo of the South, and Fiano, a white grape with a fruity bouquet showing hints of apples and pears, with balanced acidity.  They do also grow the International varieties of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, but in smaller quantities.  

I was invited to learn about and taste a selection of wines by Tomaresca paired with dishes created by Hydra Estiatoria in downtown Vancouver.  The introduction to the winery and lead through the tasting was by Vito Palumbo, CEO at Tomaresca, a man full of enthusiasm for the winery, the wines of Tomaresca and Puglia, as well as the fresh cuisine of the region. He noted Puglia was not well known for many years but is more known over the last 10 years due to the increasing quality of their wines.  Puglia before used to make bulk wine and ship it across to the rest of Italy.  In 1998 a bulk winery from the area invited and met with the Antinori family who invested in the region and together formed the Tomaresca winery to produce quality wines.  Antinori loved the native grapes in the region and wanted to emphasize them rather than take over the area and plant international grape varieties.  

The Tomaresca winery cares for the environment and once the winery was established, solar panels were installed to supply it with all its electrical needs.  They are also a certified organic winery. Vito noted that their vines were stronger when they went organic, which helps with climate change effects. 

The Wines at Our Lunch

Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro 2021 rose magnums together with Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo 2019 and Tormaresca Chardonnay 2021 wines
Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro 2021 rosé magnums together with Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo 2019 and Tormaresca Chardonnay 2021 wines

Tormaresca Chardonnay Puglia I.G.T 2021 (BC $24.98)

Vito mentioned that their Chardonnay is grown in vineyards by the sea and has some salinity on the palate. The wine is stainless steel fermented.  It is their comfort wine; easy to enjoy.

I did really enjoy this Chardonnay.  It had buttery, tropical fruit and light oak aromas.  Dry, medium body and acidity.  Pineapple on the palate and light butteriness.  4.5 stars

Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro Salento I.G.T 2021 (BC $32.98)

Their rosé wine, Calafuria, is made from the Negroamaro grape and is a driver to the growth of the winery and to Puglia in general.  Puglia produces the most Rose wine in Italy. Their wine looks very similar in colour to a Provence Rosé but the taste is of Puglia, with salinity, a touch of residual sugar, and fresh acidity according to Vito.  Negraoamaro has a thick crunchy skin which makes it perfect for producing rosé wines in Puglia. Calafuria takes its name from the over 700 bays on the Apulian peninsula. The wine is lightly pressed and cool fermented in stainless steel tanks. 

This wine has a bright clear salmon colour.  Medium-intensity red fruit aromas along with some raspberry leaf.  It is off-dry, medium-plus body, round with lively higher acidity.  Fresh red fruits, strawberries, and raspberry leaf on the palate. 4 stars4.5 stars

Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo Salento I.G.T 2019 (BC $39.98)

Vito noted that the Primitivo grape is perhaps the most famous red grape in Italy.  In Europe, Primitivo is the most Italian popular red grape wine. When a grape is so successful, you can also have poor-quality wines produced to ride on the popularity of the wine.  For Tomaresca, it was important to show that this grape can produce a fine wine.  Their Primitivo was the first wine from Puglia to get into the top 100 Best Wines from Wine Spectator.  In the past Puglia wines just registered in the Best Value category. Last year their Primitivo wine reached the Top 100 Best Wines for the second time.

Primitivo was brought by a monk to Italy.  He planted it on the hillside of an area in Puglia.  He named it Primitivo because it is the first red grape to be harvested. Primo = first.  It is a more challenging grape to harvest.  It has a thin skin and naturally dries out, appassimento, so that you have a very narrow time period to harvest the grape so that the skin does not break or begin to dry out.  

According to Vito, the signature flavour of the wine is red cherries, but you also get black pepper, spices, liquorice, and beautiful acidity which is important to balance the wine.  The rich land, with lots of sunshine, and acidity balances the power of the wine. Otherwise, you get a flabby wine.  

This wine was opaque garnet in the glass and tears were visible on the sides of the glass with swirling.  Deep, rich ripe black fruit nose along with meaty, black liquorice, candied black fruit and oak aromas. Medium-plus body, semi-round and slightly off-dry.  Sweet ripe black fruits, tar, black pepper, and nutmeg flavours.  Spicy finish.  Medium intensity bright acidity.  Delicious. 4 stars4.5 stars

Our Food and Wine Pairing

Vito mentioned that Puglia is about food.  They have the largest diversity of food in Italy.  Did you watch the Stanley Tucci special where he had an episode about Puglia?  To start our lunch we had a wide selection of salumi, cheese, raw salmon, oysters on the half-shell, ceviche, olives, and assorted crackers. We casually paired these nibbles with the Tomaresca Chardonnay.  The light tropical fruit flavour and medium acidity were complementary; like adding a light seasoning to a dish.

Assorted salumi, cheese, seafood, and more at Hydra
Assorted salumi, cheese, seafood, and more at Hydra

Seated, our first course was a Burrata salad with tomato, cucumber, olives, pepper, capers, and extra virgin olive oil.  I enjoyed the smooth texture and saltiness of the burrata and the textures and flavours of the vegetables on their own, but they also went exceptionally well with the red fruit flavours and the touch of sweetness from the Tormaresca Calafuria Negroamaro 2021 rosé wine.

The main course was a pasta dish, Orrechiette, made with sausage, charred broccolini, garlic, tomato, fennel pollen, and bombino bianco wine. The pasta looks like a small ear.  The fennel flavour from the pasta dish worked well with the dark fruit and peppery flavour from the Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo 2019.  The pasta was cooked perfectly al dente.  I also noted flakes of red chilli pepper in the dish and that spiciness also paired nicely with the sweet dark fruit flavours of this wine.

Dessert was Pasticcioti, a crispy phyllo pastry, orange, semolina custard, and dark chocolate. I also paired the dessert with the Primitivo.  The richness of the chocolate was complementary with the dark fruit flavours of the wine.

Burrata salad (L), Orrechiette pasta (M), and Pasticcioti (R) at Hydra
Burrata salad (L), Orrechiette pasta (M), and Pasticcioti (R) at Hydra

I was very impressed with the quality of the dishes at Hydra Estiatoria and will be sure to visit them again.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

The Chardonnay and Rose wines are available through Everything Wine stores:

Tormaresca Chardonnay 2021

Tormaresca Calafuria 2021

The Tomaresca Torcicoda 2019 is listed at Everything Wine, but is not currently in stock. 

If you would like a magnum, 1.5 litre bottle, of the Calafuria, you can purchase it through BC Liquor stores.

Thank you to the Mark Anthony Group for inviting me to this lunch.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.