Primitivo’s name is derived from the combination of several Latin terms, loosely
translating in meaning as ‘the first to ripen’. The grape variety also has a popular
relative that’s cultivated and flourishing in California’s vineyards called Zinfandel.
After much debate and speculation, viticulturalists have finally determined that
the near genetic twins are descendent from the Croatian parent grape Crljenak
Kastelanskj (aka Plavina). The Italian clonal version featured here in this bottling,
is lighter-bodied, somewhat drier and significantly price-competitive with almost
all of the unjustifiably, overpriced American ‘Zins’, making for a very satisfying
combination of value and restraint after the holiday feasting!
Established in 1921, three generations of vintners at Varvaglione Vigne & Vini
have developed the brand into one of the premier, exporting producers from the
Puglia region after an initial history of focusing on bulk wine production aimed at
local consumption. Framed between the Ionian and Adriatic seas, the 400km
long coastal area is punctuated by the Salento Peninsula, often referred to as
the ‘heel’ of south-eastern Italy. Its astonishing level of wine-making output and
ever-rising quality is built on the ancient traditions first begun by the enterprising
Phoenicians, then followed by Spartans who settled here in 706BC from Greece.
First discovered by Benedictine monk Filippo Francesco Indellicati as a wild vine growing within the monastery gardens in the 17th century, various varieties
of Primitivo were proliferated throughout this suitable agricultural zone, arriving in
Taranto Province 100 years later. Here, the highly distinctive red soil character
results from the blending of calcareous fossils and iron oxide mixed with the clay
and silt loam base. Specifically, it’s the iron content that promotes soil drainage,
contributing to almost perfect conditions for the grapevine to thrive.
This week’s DéClassé recommendation is a well made, entry level example of
what is on offer from this sun-drenched region – at an attractive price-point, for
a limited time only. Buy several to nicely compliment your casual dining.
12 e MEZZO PRIMITIVO DEL SALENTO 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #395053 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 13.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in: Puglia, Italy
By: Vigne & Vini Varvaglione
Release Date: January 10, 2015
A very fruity palate typical of the grape style with aromas of mixed berries,
plums, spice and vanilla. Try with some classic winter comfort foods such as
braised brisket, veal scaloppini, pasta Bolognese or a Neapolitan-style pizza.