100% Primitivo (aka Zinfandel)
- First-things-first, I think the best idea that brands such as Layer Cake, ever did when marketing their own Primitivo was to put “AKA Zinfandel” on the front label. No-one knows what Primitivo is (at least the vast majority of consumers don’t), and as much resistance as I’m sure Italian winemakers have to it, it would behoove them to follow this example!
- This is the part where I usually regale you with romantic stories about the winery, the winemaker and how the winemakers dog runs around the vineyards all day eating the grapes! Alas, I could find bugger-all info on this wine through any online source! And European wineries wonder why they’re having such a hard time gaining traction in the U.S.! What this lack of information usually indicates is that a brand/importer (rather than a specific winery) is behind this label. Not that that’s any excuse…
- A few other Primitivo/Zinfandel synonyms include:Crljenak Kaštelanski, Gioia Del Colle, Morellone, Plavac Veliki, Primaticcio, Primativo, Primitivo Di Gioia, Primitivo Nero, Uva Della Pergola, Uva Di Corato, Black St. Peters, Zenfendal, Zinfardel, Zinfindal, Taranto, Zeinfandall, Zinfardell, Zinfindel, Zinfandal. No-one ever said this “wine stuff” was easy!
- The little-bit of information I could find online about the Passitivo Primitivo, apparently states that they use a technique referred to as “il giro del picciolo.” This process reportedly involves carefully twisting the grape stems once the grapes have reached the optimum degree of ripeness. This process prevents nutrients reaching the fruit, with the grapes then being left to dry and shrivel on the vines before being picked. The resulting effect is a concentration of flavor and sugar levels. Needless to say, it’s extremely time consuming!
- The Apuglia (or Puglia) region is located in the heel of Italy’s boot. The name is supposed to have been derived from the Roman term a-pluvia or ‘lack of rain’.
- Apuglia is alongside Sicily as being the second largest (by volume) wine producing region in all of Italy. Although, they’re still a long ways behind the #1 spot, occupied by the Veneto region.
- Production in Puglia has dropped significantly since the 1980’s, when it was producing around twice the volume of what it is today.
- Indicazione Geografica Tipica (or IGT for short), is a category of wine created by Italian wine law in 1992. This particular category supposedly classifies wine as being the equivalent of a French Vin de Pays (VDP). As far as I’m concerned IGT has no major importance, and should generally not be used as any real qualifier of quality. Some of the best wines I’ve tasted coming out of Italy are IGT classified.
- Over 60% of wines coming out of Puglia are red. The most well-known wine is Primitivo, but the Salice Salentino is also worth some of your attention (if you can find it).
- Puglia is known to have one of the most fertile soils in all of Italy, and is heavily planted with vines, olive trees and wheat.
I actually learnt that the winemaker behind the Passitivo had used the “il giro del picciolo” process (described in the Facts section) after I had finished the wine. I find this interesting, as I really did sense an “Amarone-esque” quality before I even knew it had one applied during winemaking.
Ripe dark cherries, intense plum, a healthy amount of dried fruit and some earth and leaves. The wine spends a short time in oak, which is moderately apparent, but doesn’t overwhelm; instead adding a hint of nutmeg and spice. Simple and straight-forward. Medium in body and dry on the finish.
For a $12 a bottle and as a “get home from work, kick off your shoes, crack open a bottle and sit down and watch TV” kind-of-wine, it did the job just great!
Keep it Italian and you should be fine! Red sauce pasta, aged hard cheese, pizza, nuts, sausage, game, roasted red meats in every form (dependent on the sauce of course), and grilled zucchini and eggplant.