One visit is I think enough; there are beautiful white hill-top cities with narrow streets and copious markets. But the whole has a rather down at heel feel; it is as the French would say, un peu tristounet.
It is obviously impoverished and you see it and feel it everywhere. This is not Tuscany or the Veneto, and it seems unremittingly mono-crop: if you like olives and hugging trees, it’s a paradise. It is also surprisingly flat.
And as for the wines, well the Primitivos (Zinfandel in the USA) we tried seemed to lack a little elegance, were a little over mature and often finishing with a rather heavy punch. The same can be said for the Negroamaro grape, although ironically the best bottle we drank all week was a Salice Salente 2010 from a cut price grocery store at 4,9 euros per bottle.
Admittedly we weren’t there on a wine tasting trip and I am sure there are great wines from there, but when I read that it is Italy’s largest production area of wine, it makes me think of the Languedoc. With certain famous exceptions, that is not a particularly exciting thought.