Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Three

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.

Cantine Lizzano Primitivo di Manduria Manonera 2017

The Lizzano winery was formed in 1959, when Luigi Ruggieri brought a group of a hundred or so local winemakers together as a collective.  They are now more than 400 strong.  The winery boasts that their red earth is "kissed by the sun and caressed by winds that taste of the sea."

During a recent virtual tasting event, Luca Circelli spoke for the cooperative.  He pointed out that the wine's name, Manonera - black hand - signifies that the grapes are harvested through manual labor, not machinery.  He says the Primitivo di Manduria DOP wine is a little bit jammy, a little bit spicy.  Aging took place over six months in new French oak barrels and another six in the somewhat larger tonnaux.  Alcohol comes in at 15.5% abv and the wine retails for about $48.  The bottle, by the way, is very heavy.  More on that later.

This wine is medium dark in its ruby color and has a nose featuring black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and some baking spices.  The palate is bursting with fruit flavor - jammy cherry, currant, blackberry - and a hint of anise.  The tannins are firm but not too firm and the wine's acidity offers a refreshing feel in the mouth.  The lengthy finish brings a little savory play into the mix, with a note of coffee and licorice.

Claudio Quarta Vignaiolo Primitivo di Manduria Oro di Eméra

Owner Alessandra Quarta spoke at the recent online tasting session of how her dad, Claudio, left his career in biotech to be a winemaker.  They now work in the vineyards and the cellar as a team at their wineries in Puglia and Campania.  She says the winery is run in as sustainable a manner as possible, less than a mile from the beautiful Ionian Coast.  The land was once covered in water and it now shows the result of that sea influence in the soil.  

She also said that they are not yet distributed in the U.S., and she would appreciate it if customers would ask for her wine where they shop.  The topic of the sometimes extremely heavy bottles from Manduria was broached, but she didn't have a very conclusive answer.

The Primitivo di Manduria Oro di Eméra 2017 comes from the Eméra Estate in the Primitivo lands of Marina di Lizzano, in the province of Taranto.  The name was derived from Hemera, the Greek goddess of the day, because of the way the sun hits the calcium-rich soil.  Other wines come from Moros Winery in the Negroamaro lands of Guagnano and Sanpaolo Winery in the Irpinia del Vino.  The wine was aged at least a year in small oak barrels.  Alcohol is listed as 15% abv and the retail price is around $25.

This wine is dark, and carries a deep purple color in the glass.  The nose has plum and blackberry fruit, but they are hiding behind a more savory curtain of aromas: pepper, violets, leather and a box of cigars. The palate shows youthful black fruit and a double handful of tannins.  Give the wine some time to relax after opening.  

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