Classic aromas of Primitivo/Zinfandel are: Boysenberry, Blackberry, Black Cherry, Black Plum, Raisin and Cinnamon


Primitivo, perhaps better known as Zinfandel, a red grape variety, is actually a Croatian variety originally known as Tribidrag.

As far as historical homes go for this grape – southern Italy is the key. The region of Puglia in the south-eastern coast is where the majority of Primitvo is found. The best wines are produced in the specialised appellation of Primitivo di Manduria.

Though as far as the majority of plantings of this varietal are concerned, California is its home. Here it is the second most important red grape, after Cabernet Sauvignon, making up a total of 20,377ha – that is nearly three times the amount of Primitivo in Italy. In California it is known as Zinfandel, it was originally planted more widely than Cabernet Sauvignon. It is also made into a sweet, deep coloured rose known as ‘white Zinfandel’.

After these two countries there are only a few countries that have successfully produced a Zinfandel – a grape that needs a very hot climate to ripen fully. Mexico and Canada have made attempts though the most successful, and largest, attempts have been in Australia. It is now a staple of south Australia.

Zinfandel/Primitivo produces full-bodied wines with medium soft tannins. The key flavours of Italian Primitivo are black and purple fruits, namely boysenberry, blackberry and black plums. Zinfandels can be riper with more flavours of blackcurrants, black cherries, prunes, raisins. The best examples will have light florals reminiscent of violets and black rose. Oak helps to lend flavours of cinnamon, clove, coffee beans and chocolate as well as buttered toast.

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