There has been much debate over the roots of the Primitivo grape. Recent DNA fingerprinting has proven that California'sZinfandel is the same as southern Italy's Primitivo. The genetic findings delve even deeper: Studies by the grape geneticist Carole Meredith, a professor at the University of California (Davis), have confirmed that Primitivo and Zinfandel are identical to the Croatian variety, Crljenak Kasteljanski. In southern Italy's Puglia, Primitivo is the third most planted grape and is the sole varietal used in the region's only DOCG wine, Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale. To create this decidedly sweet wine, Primitivo grapes often undergo the apassimento process, a method of rying the grapes to concentrate their sugars. To learn more about Primitivo-based wines, be sure to look through our Primitivo Wine Reviews.
Nothing shy here; this 100% Primitivo, from the Stonetree vineyard, lists the alcohol at 15.5%. Dark and musky, lightly earthy and soft, it’s a luscious bottle which blankets the tongue with rustic (in a good way) black fruits and exotic spices. For the finishing kicker, barrel aging brings in dark chocolate. Rare and wonderful.
This lavish wine boats fine winemaking. Its beautiful flavors of plump cherry, leather, chocolate and tobacco are backed by soft tannins and a rich, round mouthfeel. This should pair with meat or pasta.
Another stunner from Uvaggio, who is making stellar wines across the board from Lodi grapes, low in alcohol (13%) and fairly priced. This fruity Primitivo can be enjoyed all night from before a meal to during to a bedtime sendoff—it just gets better and better in the glass. Pomegranate, cherry, toffee, they’re all in this soft, easy-drinking wine.
For California Primitivo this wine advances the argument a mile. It’s rich and ripe in berry, cocoa and coffee flavors, with a fabulously delicious finish. What it has in common with Zinfandel is a briary exuberance, but it’s really closer in quality to a fine Napa Cab.
Vintner Luigi Rubino represents a new generation of young and dynamic winemakers in Puglia. This is a dark and decadent red wine, with sweet oak tones that sit behind the cherry, chocolate fudge, cinnamon and tobacco. The mouthfeel is supple, rich and long-lasting.
If you enjoy a big Californian Zinfandel you will love this wine. It’s got ripe, zesty black fruits with a juicy mouthfeel. It’s big but not overblown—the acidity balances well with the fruit and oak to make this another winner from the A Mano line.
Rich, plush aromas lead off. The wine is smooth-textured and dense, with robust tannins that give good structure and staying power. Spicy black cherry, plum, choclate and herb flavors are well integrated. Toasty oak frames the ensemble. Related to but different from this winery’s Zinfandel.