Negroamaro, also written Negro Amaro, is a particularly dark skinned grape variety that thrives in the eastern half of Italy's Salento peninsula, largely in the provinces of Lecce and Brindisi. Here it constitutes the foundation with which smaller portions of Malvasia Nera and Primitivo are blended, to make many well known regional wines. These include the DOC's of Salice Salentino, Copertino, Brindisi, Leverano and Squinzano.
These wines boast ripe figgy fruit flavours from a quintessentially warm Mediterranean climate. However, the better examples also offer an attractively dusty texture and a firm carapace of tannins. These allow for grip, composure in the wines and mid-term ageability.
Like so many southern Italian grape varieties including Aglianico, for example, Negro Amaro is thought to have been brought to Italy by the colonizing Greeks during the 7th and 8th centuries. It was then popularized across ancient trade routes. There are two schools of thought about the name's etymological roots. One school claims that the name derives from its colour (negro) and characteristics (amaro, or bitter); while the other school believes that the name derives from its unusually dense colour (nigra in Latin and mavro in Greek), citing one of the variety's synonyms, Nigramaro, as evidence.
Despite the high quality of wines for which the grape is known, Negroamaro nevertheless fell victim to the fine pull scheme implemented across the European Union. It was arguably a victim of southern Italy's inability to market its agricultural wares in the face of northern European capital and bureaucracy. Its total area subsequently fell from 31,000 hectares in 1990 to 16,670 hectares in 2000.