Leone de Castris » Founding Members

Leone de Castris

Ufficio Via Senatore de Castris, 26 Salice Salentino (LE) 73015 Italia Telefono ufficio: 0832 731112 Fax ufficio: 0832 731114 Sito web: http://www.leonedecastris.net


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With Piernicola de Castris we are in the presence of the fifth generation of a dynasty of wine producers active in the Salento peninsula for three centuries. It was 1665 when one of his ancestors, Duke Oronzo Arcangelo Maria Francesco, Count of Lemos and nephew of Francesco and Ferrante, both Spanish viceroys in Italy, founded a cellar at Salice Salento. With such satisfying results that they were convinced to sell their possessions in Spain in order to invest the sums in the Apulia, creating a small empire of 12,500 acres of land. The two thousand square meter cellar built at the time, the XVII century, has become, today, an enormous white and pink parallelepiped of 40,000 square meters with various buildings and a squared-off edifice which towers over the entire complex. At Salice thy call it “the company of Don Pierino”. Don Pierino was the grandfather of Piernicola, Piero Leone Plantera, who married Donna Lisetta of the de Castris counts, the last heiress of the cellars. Don Pierino greatly influenced the entire story of the firm from 1900 to the 1960’s. It was he who transformed it into a modern company: he had already begun to market the wine in bottles in 1925, in a period when, even in northern Italy, wine was still sold in bulk, in barrels or in demijohns. Five Roses, his best known wine, was the first rosé to be sold in bottle in all of Italy. But this came later, the final year of World War II, when northern Italy was still under Nazi occupation. General Charles Poletti, supply commissioner for the allied armies, had ordered a large supply of rosé wine, but he wanted an American name. And so Five Roses was born, named for an area called Cinque Rose (“five roses”) of the fiefdom of Salice because, for several generations, every de Castris had five daughters. After a period as sales director begun at the request of his father, Piernicola became general director at the end of the 1990’s. He managed to inject a new dynamism into the firm, renovating the cellars and replanting the vineyards, experimenting new grape varieties even if he continued to give the greatest emphasis to the traditional grapes of the zone. The most satisfying wines are made, in fact, from Negroamaro, the typical grape of the Salento peninsula, the basis of the blend of Donna Lisa, the Salice Salentino Riserva wine of the house, which has received much recognition and many prizes: an important red wine with aromas of cherries ad notes of tobacco, soft and velvety, a great expression of the potential of the peninsula.

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