I spent the last year and a half in Puglia---a land that I truly love---trying to find the ultimate Primitivo wine. Did I find it? Yes and no.
The best Primitivo---the ultimate Primitivo---is as time-sensitive as the best iPhone: Every year it changes; it advances; it ages; it re-invents itself. But unlike the iPhone, Primitivo wines will never be obsolete. These days are particularly transitory for Primitivo because Puglia is a rapidly emerging wine-producing region, where winemakers are still testing out newly acquired technology (as well as their international attention). But I like what I'm seeing.
I wouldn't call any of the wines below the "ultimate" or the "best" Primitivo. I'm still looking toward the horizon.
I've tasted hundreds of Primitivo wines made in Puglia as well as many wines made using Primitivo grapes grown in Puglia but made elsewhere in Italy. My favorites are those made in Puglia using grapes grown in Puglia. I haven't tasted every Primitivo, but I've come close.
I've written more on the Primitivo grape, which is identical to California's Zinfandel grape on a genetic level, here and here.
Top 10 Primitivo Wines From Puglia
1. 2007 "Primitivo di Manduria" DOC by Attanasio Winery
2. 2003 “Elegia: Affinato in Barrique" DOC by Consorzio Produttori Vini
3. 2004 “Terragnolo Primitivo” IGT by Apollonio Winery
4. 2002 “Dunico” DOC by Masseria Pepe Winery
5. 2006 “Elegia: Affinato in Barrique" DOC by Consorzio Produttori Vini
6. 2006 “Lirica” DOC by Consorzio Produttori Vini
7. 2003 “Santufili” IGT by Mocavero Winery
8. 2006 “Felline” DOC by Racemi Winery
9. 2007 "Patrunu Ró" IGT by Botrungo Winery
10. 2006 “Amativo” IGT by Cantele Winery (this is a blend of 60% Primitivo, 40% Negroamaro)