Orion Wines, Terre di Faiano, Primitivo, IGP Salento, Puglia, Italy, 2016
On primitivo in IGP Salento
[Aka zinfandel in the US]. IGP Salento lies at the extreme southern end of the Puglian peninsula (aka Salentino). Soils are limestone and clay, low lying, in a sun baked climate . Vines are typically bush-trained, low to the ground, shading themselves and one another, in a defence against the strong sirocco wind from North Africa, and sun burn . Legally, if it says primitivo on the label, then it must contain at least 85% of that variety. Often varietal in Salento, it is not uncommonly blended elsewhere in the region, with aglianico or negroamaro in more even proportions, and makes an interesting blend with a splash of cabernet sauvignon, which emphasizes any blackcurrant note and adds tannins, for perhaps a tad more development potential.
Its local profile, from various sources, includes blackberry, black cherry, blackcurrant, blueberry, confected red berries, plum, strawberry; violets; chocolate (oak and/or warm climate), cinnamon (oak), dried fruits, dried figs, flag iris, kirsch, leaf tea, leather, liquorice, menthol, savoury, sweet spice, tobacco. Wines are full-bodied, alcohol ranges 13.5-14.5%, quite commonly a restrained 13.5, with soft tannins, balancing acidity, and a spiciness on the finish.
A survey of wine currently available, shows that some are oak-aged, some in new some in seasoned barrique, for a few months, with up to 10 months seen. And they seem to reach maturity within 1 to 3 years, and exceptionally may keep, and some develop, for the same again.
This wine: lot No. L8-234 (back label), certified organic, varietal primitivo (legally >=85% named variety), 12 months ageing in second use French and American barrique, agglomerate cork closure, 13.5% abv, Waitrose Cellar, on offer £7.20 (£10) (12/18)
Consumer tasting note: deeply hued, with a profile of rich black cherry, dark and milk chocolate (give it half an hour for the chocolate to come through clearly), with a creamy lactic edge, full-bodied, low-key silky tannins, with lightly warming alcohol – all point to zinfandel, though tempranillo might be an initial candidate, that needs careful elimination in blind tasting. Finishes soundly long.
Drink now – RTD, but will keep – Wait. No need to decant.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, deep intensity ruby, showing tears [no sediment].
Nose: clean, medium intensity, developing, with aromas as they come, of red plum juice, rich black cherry with a spicy edge, dried vanilla pod, a creamy lactic note underpinning ripe red cherry, a hint of milk chocolate, a suggestion of beeswax, developing hint of black liquorice.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, smooth ripe medium tannins, medium (+) alcohol, full body, pronounced intensity, a velvety texture with a sense of sweetness in mid-palate, with flavours of rich ripe black cherry with a creamy lactic edge, a hint of dried vanilla pod, dark chocolate. A long length with a clean creamed black cherry finish with distinct milk chocolate on the end.
Quality: very good, well-balanced fresh(ish) acidity and soft ripe tannins with alcohol; commonplace intensity on the nose, much stronger in mid-palate, with a similar concentration, of simple-moderate complexity, with well-integrated use of part new or 2nd use oak (vanilla pod); the chocolate note suggests a warm climate, rather than from well-toasted oak (of which there is no toasty evidence), so it could come from California, South Australia or southern Italy; follows into a sound long length.
Drinking readiness/ageing potential: drink now, unsuited to further ageing, but will keep for say up to 2 years – well-balanced for now, but with soft tannins (that will not support ageing), lots of intensity where it matters, and concentration, with a full length, lots of primary fruit, with some new/nearly new oak influence, and a bare glimpse of tertiary development – it may be that if anything, a note of tobacco, alongside the similar dried vanilla pod, might develop.
- Belfrage, N. (2001). Brunello to Zibibbo, The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy. Mitchell Beazley.
- The bush-trained vineyards of Puglia. [online] accessed 07/12/18.