Primitivo di Manduria Epicuro
Primitivo is a dark-skinned grape variety used in certain inky, tannic wines from the Puglia region of deepest southern Italy. It is perhaps better known under its American synonym Zinfandel, which has become one of the most widely planted Vitis vinifera vines in the western United States.
It is likely that the rise of the variety in the United States rescued Primitivo from Puglian obscurity. Its popularity is only increasing, particularly through DOCs such as Primitivo di Manduria and its naturally sweet variant Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale – Puglia’s very first DOCG.
It is thought that Primitivo was brought to the vineyards of southern Italy from the Primorska Hrvatska region of Croatia, where it is known as Crljenak Kasteljanski. It is likely it was in this form, and from this origin, that the variety arrived in America, although it was only in the 1990s that the Zinfandel-Primitivo-Crljenak link was confirmed.
Primitivo translates roughly as ‘early one’, and it is hard to miss the link here with Tempranillo, which means the same thing in Spanish. English speakers might infer the grape was in some way ‘primitive’, perhaps less refined than other grape varieties and the robust, almost aggressive character of much Primitivo might support this idea – even in Puglia the wine is known as Mirr Test, meaning ‘hard wine’. However, the Primitivo name is thought to be a reference to the variety’s early ripening nature, although it is also possible that it was named in reference to the uneven way Primitivo berries ripen; it is not unusual to see plump, fully ripened berries clustered alongside hard, green ‘grapeshot’.
A classic Primitivo wine is high in both alcohol and tannins, intensely flavoured and deeply coloured. In Manduria, the fortified liquoroso variants often reach an ABV of 18%, which is dulled to 14% in table wines. Certain bitterness is often found in Primitivo which, combined with its mouth-puckering tannins, means that it needs a few years in either bottle or barrel. This faint bitterness is a trait that characterizes many Italian wines, and a quality that is being used to mark Primitivo as a truly Italian grape, quite distinct from its alter ego across the Atlantic.
The FEMAR VINI Farm Company lies on the southeast ridge of the sunny hill which starts where the boundaries of Frascati, Monte Porzio Catone and the Agro Romano meet.
The Farm Company was renovated with a philosophy based on the search for the absolute best quality, and it achieved decidedly prestigious targets within a decade, secure in the knowledge that it is based in an area which repays the efforts of those who work with serious intent.
The Company was founded in the 1970s by Armando Merge.Following in the centuries-old family tradition, his son, Felice Mergè, after having observed and studied in depth the most interesting National and International wine producing companies, was able to develop his own distinctive style by experimenting with new, revolutionary processes of wine making and product maturation which have propelled FEMAR VINI to its current qualitative levels.