Primitivo - aka Zinfandel

Our portfolio features a number of PRIMITIVO wines from the south of Italy.

But how much do you know about this important grape?


This ancient vine was popularised in California as Zinfandel but traces its lineage back to the ancient Phoenicians who settled the southern part of the Italian peninsula.

Most commonly making a smooth, low tannin wine, Primitivo is now enjoying long overdue praise for its juicy and well-structured character – ideal for Asian cuisines.

Psst! Primitivo can also make more than a fruity, easy-drinking red! There are more austere, complex, age-worthy Primitivo wines to explore.


If you need any help deciding where to start, do get in touch: or WhatsApp 8322 5042.





The Primitivo grape is planted along the ‘heel’ of Italy – the Apulia region – and its name derives from its tendency to ripen earlier than other grapes.


The origins of ZPC are really interesting:

It was an early grape for winemaking in Croatia (where it’s known as Crljenak Kaštelanski or Tribidrag) at least as far back as the 15th century.

In the 18th century a clone was taken to southern Italy, where it became a popular rustic table wine, under the new local name Primitivo.

In the late 1960s this vigorous vine travelled to the US, where it became known as Zinfandel and thrived in the heat of California.

Legendary grape geneticist at UC David, Carole Meredith, studied the variety in great detail and started referring to it as “ZPC” – Zinfandel / Primitivo / Crljenak Kaštelanski.



Primitivo is not as challenging a vine as others, like Pinot Nero, but it does tend to ripen unevenly – meaning patches of fruit within one bunch can be close to raisins while others are under ripe. This is especially true in California, which researchers expect has to do with the relatively limited time the vine has spent adapting to the local soil/climate. Only time will tell ...

In response to this uneven ripening, some winemakers separate the bunches (or even individual grapes) which can add to the cost of production and increase wine pricing, while others prefer to experiment and create wine from fruit with mixed levels of ripeness.



Primitivo vines produce fruit with a high sugar content, which tends to result in wines with high levels of alcohol.

Cooler climates can produce Primitivo wines with red berry aromas or flavours, but the Primitivos of southern Italy tend to hint at blackberry and liquorice plus some peppery notes.



Serve this punchy wine with rich tomato dishes, such as lasagne.

Try it with a steak alongside a slightly sweet sauce or relish, or with barbeque food like sticky chicken wings.

It also pairs well with spicy sweet dishes, such as coconut-based curries (mmmm, pair with a beef rendang) and also Moroccan style lamb.

Explore the PRIMITIVO grape with a very special presentation box of 3 vintages of highly-awarded Muro Sant'Angelo BARBATTO (wooden "vertical" gift box):