20051209

Primitive pleasures of the Primitivo grape: Terrale 2003

Terrale Primitivo Puglia 2003
Jancis Robinson writes in The Oxford Companion to Wine that the Primitivo grape is just outside the top 5 red grape varieties harvested in Italy. With increasing publicity about it sharing the DNA fingerprint of the trendy Zinfandel grape, I bet Primitivo has covered much ground in Puglia (literally), and all around the southeastern Italian coast for that matter. But I await an overdue 3rd edition from Robinson to know for sure. My guess might be the result of wishing thinking because I can't get enough Primitivo.

To me, the grape with the "primitive" moniker lives up to its name. Primitivo is ripe for enjoyment in simple, inexpensive expressions like the Terrale Primitivo Puglia 2003. Either that or this bottle is an especially good buy. Quite some time ago, I picked it up on sale for only $8.80. As it sat around the house any expectations I had for it lowered, and they weren't too big to begin with. One Primitivo-based wine [correction] I remembered opening was a bottle that was twice the price. That was the Taurino Reserva Salice Salentino and it attacked with a unique eucalyptus intensity. Nice for a change, but would I go for it any day of the week? That medicinal tinge can give some cause for hesitation. In the end, Terrale doesn't have those medicinal notes; it just presents straight-forward fruit and a full earthiness offset by the perfect amount of tannin. It is so drinkable and yummy despite a finish best described as average. Easy to pair, it can complement the sharp flavours of oregano fusili topped with packed tuna, capers and parmesan or harmonize nicely with roasted pork loin, mushrooms and root vegetables in a maple and rosemary reduction. Though it won't likely harmonize well with light or delicately flavoured meals, one could even imagine it served with fresh fish that's grilled and ambitiously spiced, like the bottle label suggests. Voluptuous, impetuous and with dark berry notes, as the label goes on to explain, this wine is barreled for four months followed by equal time in the bottle.

Casa Vinicola Calatrasi, San Cipirello, Italia. 13.5%.

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