Deep ruby color; leather, tobacco, blackberry on the nose; strawberry, blueberry, cocoa, candied cherry, ripe plum, dry herbs, spice on the palate.
Dry, edging toward off-dry; easy going, sweet tannins; some acidity. Rich, juicy, and full in the mouth. Primitivo principally is grown in Puglia in the boot heel of Italy, where this was made. DNA testing demonstrates primitivo is identical to zinfandel, and both primitivo and zinfandel are identical to the ancient Croatian variety crljenak kaštelanski. Unlike California zin, primitivo shows the leather and tobacco notes found in several southern Italian reds, and less pepper than you find in California bottles; 14.5% ABV.
Only slight oak—the wine ages for a year in mammoth 6,000-liter (more than 1,585-gallon) Slavonian casks. By contrast, the popular barrique barrel holds 225 liters (59 gallons). The large size of most Slavonian casks results in more subtle oak and softer tannins—as in this effort. Smooth, silky after some air and time in glass, very easy drinker.
The wine’s name references the rocks/stones (“sassi/sasso”) of the Salento Peninsula—stones which reflect warmth and help mature the grapes in the red soil of the vineyards. Pimitivo roughly translates to “early one.” Unlike how it performs in California, primitivo is more finicky in Italy, so primitivo fell out of fashion in Italy in the 1990s.
The Zonin family, however, saw opportunity, purchased the estate in 2000, and revitalized it with historic restoration of buildings—including a private chapel—and planting of new vineyards. There is a nice video about the winery, vineyards, and ancient olive groves (see link below).
Zonin USA, Inc. distributes this wine in the U.S. It is wholly owned by Casa Vinicola Zonin S.p.A. in Italy; a company with nine estates located in the seven of the most prestigious wine growing areas in Italy. The wineries of Zonin USA include Masseria Altemura in Puglia, Rocca di Montemassi in Maremma, Castello Di Albola in Chianti Classico, Principi di Butera in Sicily, Ca’Bolani in Friuli, Castello del Poggio in Piemonte, Il Bosco in Lombardia, Podere Il Giangio in the Veneto, and Abbazia Monte Oliveto in Tuscany. They also have a strategic partnerships in Argentina and Chile. Zonin USA’s portfolio is distributed in all 50 states and more than 120 countries around the world.
Masseria Altemura Sasseo Primitivo IGT 2015 is good value and gives you a different take on zinfandel—somewhat more subtle and less alcohol heat than the California iterations of this grape. Sweet in the mouth thanks to ripe grapes. Avoids being jammy. Has a skosh more acidity than American efforts with crljenak kaštelanski/zinfandel, which helps it with food, especially tomato-based dishes. Pair with burgers, sliders, and pizza; grilled meats in general; spicy sausage; spicy barbecue; lamb. $13-18