Monday, May 31, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Four

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - Puglia - the heel of Italy's "boot."  The warm climate brings the best out of the Primitivo grape, known in the province of Taranto as Primitivo di Manduria.  In the U.S., particularly California, the grape grows under the name of Zinfandel.  In Manduria, they like to think of the Puglia Primitivos as a pyramid, with the Primitivo di Manduria DOC at the top.

Antica Masseria Jorche Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2016

The Antica Masseria Jorche - ancient, fortified farm, dating back to the 17th century - came into the hands of Antonio and Mariella Gianfreda in 1990.  They restored - in some places, rebuilt - the abandoned structures and created a winery, restaurant, hotel and apartments.  Emanuela Gianfreda is the winemaker, and she and her sister Dalila spoke during the virtual tasting event staged by international wine guide Gambero Rosso.  They are the fifth generation of the winemaking family.

Jorche's 2016 Riserva Primitivo Di Manduria is made from Salento vines which average about 40 years old.  The aging process took 12 months, in barriques and capasuni - amphoras popular in Puglia.  The wine's alcohol level is a lofty 16% abv and the retail price is around $30.

This dark wine has a fruity nose of blackberry and plum, but there are some more savory notes as well.  Black pepper, cigar box and black olive also come through.  On the palate, licorice and plums are in the forefront of one of the fruitier flavor profiles I have tasted in Apulian Primitivos.  The 16% alcohol is not as overpowering as I imagined it would be.  The tannins are fairly forceful and the acidity is refreshing.  This wine drinks really well and will pair nicely with a marbled rib eye steak.

Cantolio Primitivo di Manduria Tema Riserva

The Cantolio collective was founded in the early 1960s and now includes more than 700 growers.  Company President Francesco Della Grottaglie is quite proud of his corner of Salento, and winemaker Salvatore Dell'Aquila loves the grapes with which he gets to work.

In the coastal area, the vines grow in sand and rock outcroppings, benefiting from their proximity to the Ionian Sea.  Inland, the soil is either red - loaded with potassium and iron - or black with humus and clay.

Tema Riserva is a Primitivo Di Manduria DOP wine which the winery says represents the marriage of the mother land and the father sea.  It was aged in both steel tanks and French oak barrels.  Alcohol is up there at 15% abv, common for the wine's of Manduria.  The retail price is about $30.

This wine has a medium-dark tint and a complex nose.  Earthiness is the overriding feel from the aroma package.  There is plum, blackberry and raspberry in there, all colored by savory minerals, tobacco, tar, leather and sweet oak spice.  The palate shows black cherry, cassis, licorice and a beautiful oak effect.  The tannins are firm without getting in the way, and pairing the wine with a meaty pasta dish springs to mind first.  The finish is of medium length and reminds me of sweet fruit, odd perhaps, for a wine that brought the savory so early.

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