Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Best of the Best Wines from Puglia, Part 2: Primitivo di Manduria DOC

Here are two of my all-time favorite Primitivo di Manduria DOC wines (I’ve also listed a firecracker I accidentally put in my mouth, which I then decided I liked). The Primitivo di Manduria DOC requires that the wine be principally made from the Primitivo grape, but I have been unable to find the exact percentage. Does anyone know what the minimum necessary percentage of Primitivo is for a wine to qualify as Primitivo di Manduria DOC? To obtain the DOC label the Primitivo grapes must be grown around the city of Manduria and I believe that the wine cannot have an alcohol percentage lower than 14%.

Racemi Winery
Rating: 9
Available in U.S.: Yes
2006 "Felline" Primitivo di Manduria DOC (100% Primitivo)
7.50 Euro

At first, a jammy nose of blackberry and blueberry had me comparing it with California Zinfandel, particularly those made my Wellington Winery in Napa Valley. However, as the wine opened the nose became dusty and chalky, reminding me of evening strolls through Manduria’s rocky countryside: It is the best of both worlds. The wine changes thoroughly as it opens. 1st glass had an unpleasant bitterness and felt tight, but both of these qualities were gone in the 2nd glass. In their place, flavors of earth and dust and dark fruit. It is beautifully rich, balanced, and chewy. Medium body.

Consorzio Produttori Vini Winery
Rating: 9
Available in U.S.: No
2006 “Lirica” (principally Primitivo)
5.50 Euro

I was bias against this wine because it is mind-bogglingly well advertised around Puglia, but when I finally got around to tasting it I realized my mistake. While well known in Puglia, Lirica is sadly unavailable in the United States. A dark nose of leather, plum, and smoke succumbs to juicy, red-fruit in the mouth. The wine practically explodes with finesse: juicy and approachable while dark and confounding. Round, soft tannins. Medium body.

Soloperto Winery
Rating: 6
Available in U.S.: No
2003 “Rubinum” (100% Primitivo)
4.00 Euro

A bizarre wine, the nose on the BOTTLE is pancake syrup, but the scent disappates in the glass: aromas of smoke and cherries. Tastes of very dark fruit and chimney brick. Ends with a little wino sweet/alcohol flavor, but nothing to complain about for the price. However, at 17% alcohol, the wine is heavy and, well, shall we say, a bit dangerous.

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