Faiano Primitivo Salento 2016

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 [1]. 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 [2]. 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.


  1. Belfrage, N. (2001). Brunello to Zibibbo, The Wines of Tuscany, Central and Southern Italy.  Mitchell Beazley.
  2. The bush-trained vineyards of Puglia. [online] accessed 07/12/18.


About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
This entry was posted in 10to20 - still red, italy puglia, primitivo. Bookmark the permalink.

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