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It’s Time to Revisit Primitivo, Puglia’s Premiere Grape

Stretching more than 200 miles from tip to tip, Puglia is a land of exciting diversity. Many wine lovers are familiar with this southern Italian region’s stalwart grape, Primitivo, but a revisit might be in order to understand the variety’s true range.

The most famous is Primitivo di Manduria Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), a region in the province of Taranto that sits alongside the Ionian Sea. This warm flatland environment has clay and sandy soils that produce rich wines. Flavors of liquor-soaked berries, figs and orange rind are typically bolstered by heavy-handed oak, and it is not uncommon for the alcohol to soar up to 16% abv. However, despite all that power, balance can still be found in examples that maintain plenty of fresh acidity to counteract the lush fruit and oak tones.

There is no singular voice for Primitivo, and each regional expression is unique. 

For Primitivo with a bit of elegance, look for options from the Gioia del Colle DOC. Located in the province of Bari, this inland, hilly region is known for its gravelly terra rossa soils. With elevations between 650 and 1,400 feet, the expression of Primitivo in this region leans fresh and vibrant. Crisp, crunchy cherry and blackberry flavors are highlighted by peppery spices, with oak influence typically playing ­second fiddle.

Primitivo is also well represented in the Salento Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), a rather large area that encompasses the entire province of the same name on…

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