Primitivo and Zinfandel – Same Grape, Two Distinct Styles.


Zinfandel and primitivo are celebrity twins of the wine world. Originally from Croatia, across the Adriatic Sea from Puglia in south-eastern Italy, the crynelak kastelanski found a second home here, and over time, evolved to several sub-varieties i.e primitivo di manduria, primitivo di Puglia and others.

It arrived in California with Italian immigrants during the Gold Rush from Puglia and over centuries adapted to the California terroir. Winemakers call it now zin.

Both primitivo and zinfandel create bold and flavourful wines, each with their own distinct nuances.

Some over a century old zinfandel in California yield wines that smell of raspberries, black cherries, anise, blueberries and leather, are high in alcohol, but balanced and intense.

They can be enjoyed with medium rare steaks, on their own with old cheddar, Swiss Emmental and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Very intense zinfandels from Amador country in California can accompany dark chocolate well.

Both zinfandel and primitivo cellar well if made with that purpose in mind.

Though they could be considered twins, zinfandel and primitivo aren’t identical. Each has developed its own style and adapted to its environment. In California ‘s long growing season berries become larger in tightly packed bunches and ripen late.

In Puglia primitivo is small-berried, loosely clustered and ripens early.

In California, zin wines range from rose, to medium-bodied table wines, to full-bodied deeply flavoured and fortified and sweet, resembling port wines.

Some zin aficionados go out of their way to buy vintages reputed to be outstanding and cellar them for years to enjoy at their peak.

Below, please find a few zins available in Ontario:

Primitivo di Manduria, 2007, Giordano, Puglia, Italy
Jammy fruit flavours, figs, vanilla, tobacco and oak are discernible. Balanced and full-bodied.
$ 17.95

Zinfandel, 2007, Truchard, Napa Valley, California
Aromas of black cherry, cranberry and boysenberry emanate from
the glass. Dry, with soft tannins the wine is smooth and has a long aftertaste.
$ 21.95

Pencetico Primitivo, 2006, Coppi, Puglia, Italy
Berry and cherry aromas predominate. In the mouth coffee, mineral and earth flavours emerge. Ready to enjoy.
$ 13.95

Ancient Vine Zinfandel, 2008, Cline, California
Raspberry, black pepper and chocolate flavours are discernible. A perfect wine for roast loin of pork stuffed with dried apricots or apples, or roast leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic.
$ 17.95

Old Vine Zinfandel, 2008, Ironstone, Lodi, California
Lodi is well known for its opulent zin wines.
Full bodied, powerful, ripe berry fruit aromas dominate.
Enjoy with medium rare steaks or game stew.
$ 17.95

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