Full Body, Fruity (Primitivo). IGT. 14% alc.
Gold medal (Berlin); 98/99 pts Luca Maroni.
Deep, rich red with concentrated notes of plum, blackberry and brambles, plus pastry or pie crust. Soft and smooth tannins, with a long finish.
The Primitivo grape of Apulia - popularised in California as Zinfandel - traces its lineage back to the ancient Phoenicians who settled this part of the peninsula. This smooth, low tannin wine is now enjoying long overdue praise for its juicy and well-structured character - ideal for Asian cuisines.
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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.
Its origins are interesting: It was an early grape for winemaking in Croatia (where it's known as Crljenak Kastelanski 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. In the late 1960s this vigorous vine travelled to the US, where it became known as Zinfandel and thrived in the heat of California. In fact, grape geneticist Carole Meredith, who studied the variety in great detail, refers to it as Zinfandel / Primitivo / Crljenak Kastelanski.
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. 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 and also Moroccan style lamb.
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