What you need to know about Primitivo

The first traces of this emblematic grape variety of Puglia wines can be found in the region of Gioia Del Colle, a province located south of Bari. After much scientific research in the United States in California, we know that Primitivo is a variety native to Croatia, known as Zinfandel in the USA and Crljenak Kastelansky (Croatia). In Italy, its name was given by a priest named Francesco Filippo Indelicati who after research noticed that this variety had an early maturity hence "Primitivo": the one that ripens first. It was only between the 17th and 18th centuries that this variety appeared in the Taranto area. Today it is one of the best known varieties in Puglia, along with others such as Negroamaro and Nero di Troia, and is also one of the most widely planted varieties in Italy.

Tasting notes: a variety with an intense red color, often characterized by a high alcohol content. On the nose, it develops notes of black fruits, prunes, spices and tobacco.

Good to know: Like everywhere else in Puglia, until the mid-20th century, the majority of Primitivo wines were intended to bolster wines from regions producing cooler wines. Since then, however, attitudes and winemaking techniques have changed and the desire to highlight the terroir and its characteristics is rife.

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The production of Primitivo

Present in several denominations of Puglia, it is mainly found in the following appellations:

Primitivo di Manduria DOP: which must be composed of a minimum of 85% primitivo and supplemented by less aromatic grapes. Minimum alcohol content of 13.5%.

In order to have the "Riserva" label, the wine must be aged for at least 24 months, 9 of which in barrels, and the alcohol content must be at least 14%.

Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG: 100% Primitivo, minimum 16% alcohol. As in the Amarone region, the grapes are dried (concentration by desiccation) to increase their sugar content.

Gioia Del Colle DOC: whose wines must be composed of at least 50% Primitivo with a maximum limit of 10% Malvasia.

It is also found in other appellations such as Salento IGT.

What are the best Primitivo wines?

Our favorite: Gianfranco Fino and his "Es" vintage
Young estate dating from 2004, it immediately acquired an international reputation that has not been denied since and is part of our Top 10 of the best red wines of Italy. The emphasis on the terroir and the work of a master craftsman make this winemaker a sure bet in the region. "Es" which refers to Freud (vision of instinct and passion) is a 100% primitivo. On the nose, the wine is complex, with spices and stewed black fruits. The mouth is velvety and elegant, the tannins are numerous, coated and supported by a nice frame of freshness. Long and pleasant finish.

Per Lui Primitivo - Leone de Castris
Without a doubt one of the sure values of the region. The Leone de Castris estate located in the municipality of Salice Salentino produces a 100% primitivo wine in small quantities. In a search for high quality and balance, all the work is done manually in the vineyard. For example, to maintain a good acidity in the grapes, the stems of the bunches are bent (without being cut) by hand two weeks before the harvest. This operation maintains the acidity of the grape while it continues to ripen until the harvest. Aromatic bouquet of black fruits such as prunes and black cherries, notes of balsamic. In the mouth, the wine is dense and balanced.

Sessantanni - Feudi di San Marzano
Unquestionably an estate to be reckoned with in a 100% primitivo tasting.
Feudi di San Marzano is a recent estate (since 2003), which emphasizes the indigenous grape varieties and here sublimates the primitivo. Made from old vines over 60 years old, the wine develops an aromatic complexity of cocoa, black cherries and stewed blackberries. The palate is generous and shows the character of this wine.

Primitivo di Manduria "Antico Sigillo" - Tenute di Emera
Ranked in 2016 in the top 100 wines in the world by Wine Spectator magazine on the 2014 vintage and with a price that defies all competition, this bottle produced by Tenute di Emera is a sure bet for Primitivo. Nose of black fruits, spices and tobacco; on the palate the wine has a nice substance with this retroolfaction of stewed fruits, the finish is long.