Thursday, May 20, 2021

Primitivo di Manduria - Part One

Manduria is a town in the region of Apulia - or, 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.

Terracalò Primitivo di Manduria 816  2019

The Terracalò 816 wine was made from Primitivo di Manduria grapes which were left drying on the vine for a short time before being harvested.  Once vinified, the wine was aged in a combination of French oak barriques and stainless steel tanks.  The wine then aged further in the bottle for five months.  

Owner Alberto Calò spoke on a recent Zoom visit for wine writers, and he called 816 rustic and powerful.  I doubt that I can improve on that description, but I will try.  I didn't catch any explanation for why the bottle seemed to weigh 816 pounds.  It was still heavy when empty.  Alcohol chimes in at 15.5% abv and it retails for about $30.

This wine is medium-dark in the glass and initially smells like eucalyptus.  There is also some black currant and black pepper in the mix, but the smoky/minty aspect of the nose is inescapable.  The palate is dark and delicious - blackberry and licorice flavors join with elements which are more earthy than spicy.  There is a sweetness that comes through as well - there's a lot going on here.  The tannins are firm enough for a meat sauce dish and the finish is lengthy.  

Masseria Cicella Primitivo di Manduria Pepe Nero

A masseria, on Italy's Apulian peninsula, is a fortified farmhouse.  The style dates back to the 16th century, when there was a need for an estate to have a fortress to protect its inhabitants.  Nowadays, a masseria is more likely to be luxury accommodations… or a winery.

Cicella Owners Michele and Cosimo Schifone are continuing a family tradition in the vineyards.  Michela spoke to the viewers on the virtual tour.  

The 2018 Pepe Nero was named for the "Pepe" district in the area.  The wine sees some stainless steel aging, plus some time in the bottle - no oak aging was reported.  It is classified as a Primitivo di Manduria DOP wine.  Alcohol sits at a lofty 16% abv and it sells in the $20 range.

This is a dark wine, in color, aroma and taste.  The nose is extremely savory, with tar paving the way for anise, blackberry and currant.  The freshness is amazing, with a lively acidity and firm tannins.  Pair it with game if you've got it, Bolognese if you don't.  It's actually so good you may not even think to have food with it. 

Follow Randy Fuller on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment