Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Primitivo Di Manduria - Part Five

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.

Apollonio Vini Primitivo di Manduria Mani del Sud 2015

The Apollonio winery dates back to 1870 when Noè Apollonio planted grapes and made wine from them.  Wine was in his blood, as his father and grandfather - Tommaso and Giuseppe - had both been wine producers.  The generations rolled on, with Salvatore upgrading the winery in 1975, which his sons inherited.  Marcello and Massimiliano now run the place, with Massimiliano handling the winemaking duties while Marcello heads up marketing and exporting. 

Their estate is in Lecce, the capital of Salento, which is mid-way between the two coasts of the Italian boot heel.  The 2015 Mani del Sud Primitivo di Manduria saw 18 months of aging in all - six in American oak barriques, six in large Slavonian oak barrels and six in the bottle.  Fermentation was in large Slavonian oak vats.  Alcohol is at the standard for the style, 15% abv, and the wine sells for around $20.

This very dark wine has a nose which I would call massive.  Tremendous tar notes blend with the blackest fruit imaginable, pulling along aromas of black olives, leather, forest floor and smoke.  The palate is just as savory, with black plum and berry flavors joined by black pepper, black cherry cola and a hint of cardamom.  The tannins are fairly smooth.  Pair this wine with any kind of meat or game dish.

Cantine Erario Primitivo di Manduria L'Unico Riserva

The Erario family have been growing vines and olive trees since the middle of the 19th century.  Primitivo di Manduria accounts for 65% of the winery's product, with much smaller amounts of Negroamaro, Fiano, Aleatico, Chardonnay and Moscato rounding out their wines.  

The grapes for Erario's 2015 L'Unico Riserva Primitivo di Manduria came from vines that are at least 70 years old.  The wine aged for 12 months in steel tanks, then 12 months in oak barriques and finally six months in the bottle.  In addition pairing with meat and game dishes, the winery says L'Unico Riserva is also a good "meditation wine," which can be fully enjoyed when sipped slowly to appreciate its complexity.  Alcohol is a rich 16% abv and the wine sells on average for around $24.

This medium-dark wine offers a nose of dark fruit and a bit of tar.  There is smoke, a touch of clove and a hint of mint, too.  The palate is drenched in blackberry, cassis and plum, with a noticeable level of tannins.  The finish is long and juicy, with that dark fruit flavor lasting the longest.  Pair with steak or a Bolognese dish. 

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