Monday, May 24, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Two

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.

PaoloLeo Primitivo di Manduria Passo del Cardinale 2018

Paolo Leo's family is five generations deep into winemaking, with a sixth being groomed to step into their father's shoes.  Young winemaker Nicola Leo believes that he brings out the best of what the vineyards offer each vintage.  His comments are dotted with phrases like, "respect for nature" and "passion for noble work."

Primitivo vines, when properly pruned, will grow a secondary bunch of grapes which are taken in a "second harvest" nearly a month after the first collection.  These grapes from both harvests were fermented in steel tanks, then the wine was aged, three months in oak barriques and six months in steel.   Alcohol sits at 14% abv and the wine usually sells for $20 or less.

It is a medium dark wine with a savory nose, showing violets, licorice, forest floor and a touch of cardamom.  The palate is spicy, with black pepper and herbs joining the black berry profile.  The tannins are quite firm and the acidity is fresh.  It is a youthful wine which will pair nicely with a pork roast.

Agricola Pliniana Primitivo di Manduria Juvenis

Agricola Pliniana is a collective of grape growers, farmers who provide the Primitivo di Manduria grapes that went into Juvenis.  A winery rep said on a recent virtual tasting that it is the oak treatment sets them apart.  The alcohol content is 14% abv and the retail price is around $11, a very nice value.

This wine is medium-dark with a ruby hue.  The nose is subtle, but shows off blackberry and raspberry aromas along with notes of black olive, cigars and spices.  The palate is nice and fruity with a minty essence to go with the oak effect.  Acidity is fresh, even youthful, and the tannins are medium firm.  I liked it with my rib eye steak, but it also sat well with crackers and cheddar/pimento cheese.  

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