Discovering Primitivo wines. Primitivo is a variety of red grape grown in Apulia, in the Province of Taranto, where it is used to produce the “Primitivo di Manduria” Doc and “Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale” Docg wines, and among the hills of Gioia del Colle and the Bari Province Murgia uplands.
Primitivo is one of Puglia’s most famous native grapes and one of the ten most-plated grapes in Italy, almost exclusively in Puglia. The variety owes its name to Francesco Filippo Indelicati, a priest in Gioia del Colle, in the province of Bari, who studied this grape in depth in the late 18th century.
Primitivo is known for its tendency to substantially alter its morphology depending on the terroir in which it is grown. Another characteristic of Primitivo is that its berries quite easily accumulate substantial quantities of sugar and therefore produce high-alcohol wines. Further, the skin is very rich in anthocyanins; this quality, when combined with those high sugar levels, explains why Primitivo has always been served as a perfect wine for blending with “thinner” central European wines.
Puglia has two DOPs dedicated to this variety, Primitivo di Manduria and Primitivo di Gioia del Colle, each specifically involving the areas that have historically proved to be most suited to Primitivo. Since these two denominations differ in their weather and soils, even quite significantly, their wines can consequently be quite different in style. Numerous other Puglia denominations, of course, utilise this grape as well. Primitivo is so early-ripening that it is generally harvested two or three weeks before the native whites, such as Bombino Bianco.
Primitivo pairs well with roast red meats, grills, pasta and aged cheeses.