Southern comforts: Italy’s great reds | Wine

Notte Rossa Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia, Italy 2018 (£11, Marks & Spencer) It’s easy to generalise about a wine region. Take the south of Italy. It’s hot down there, we might say with an airy wave of the hand gesturing vaguely at a map. So naturally that should mean red wines, and big, ripe, thick, powerful ones at that, with plenty of alcohol and dark heady scents, maybe something sweet and raisined wrung out of those vines where things get really hot and dry. Wines made from the primitivo grape, a speciality of Puglia in the heel of Italy’s boot, do in fact often come close to fitting that characterization. And there is a lot of pleasure to be had in the sheer intensity of reds that are made without much concern for modern day wine dictums about elegance and freshness, wines such as the sumptuous Notte Rossa, with its plums, dates and figs, and velvety feel.

Santa Venere Speziale Marsigliana Nera, Calabria, Italy 2018 (The Wine Society) But the likes of Notte Rossa and the even richer, darker and more intense Puglian primitivo made by the same producer, San Marzano Primitivo Di Manduria Riserva ‘Anniversario 62’ 2015 (£25.99,, are not the only stylistic game in town in the Mezzogiorno. There’s a lot more variety in red winemaking than the region is given credit for. In Puglia, for example, you can find a perennial favourite of mine, the wonderfully sprightly, 12% abv (as opposed to 14.5% and more for most primitivo) Paolo Petrilli Motta…

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