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Primitivo is a red variety grown in Puglia, Italy’s ‘heel’, and in Sicily. It may have remained obscure had it not been recognised as being identical to California’s Zinfandel variety. DNA profiling shows that both varieties share a common origin in an ancient Croatian vine.

The name Primtivo however refers to its propensity to ripen early, rather than to its undoubted antiquity. During the 1990s many vineyards here were grubbed up under the EUs vine-pull scheme aimed at reducing the European wine lake, and many of the older, gobelet-trained vines were lost. However, careful selection and modern vinification have since brought the variety great popularity. The best vineyards are located on the western side of the Salento peninsula, where the sea breezes serve to temper the southern heat, and around the town of Gioia del Colle.

Terre di Montelusa is made by Calatrasi, a wine company with quite substantial vineyard holdings in Sicily and Puglia. Their aim is to make affordable wines for everyday drinking that over deliver on both quality and originality. This smooth, ripe, juicy Primitivo is full of Southern Puglian character, with medium body, ripe, bright fruit, a touch of spice and soft velvety texture. It is a lovely all-rounder, delightful to drink alone or with simple meat dishes.

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