It’s winter and cold outside in many areas of the northern hemisphere. The times I like cozying up near a fireplace to feel the heat penetrate my skin. That satiating yum you get not because of food but because of warmth. As we don’t have a fireplace a glass of wine will do just fine. Make it Italian please. And make it red.
Last October it was all Italian wine in Puglia with Radici del Sud.
We parked at an uppermost point in Gioia del Colli just 40 minutes from Bari. Pasquale Petrera greeted us at his laid back winery Fatalone where eight hectares of Primitivo thrive on limestone and clay soil. At 400 meters (1,300 feet) they’re almost the highest of 15 wineries in the small DOC. Primitivo production is barely 60,000 cases. Pasquale’s family was the first to bottle wine here in the relatively young DOC: 1987.
…is not your typical Primitivo. In California it’s often lush, jammy, and full. Understandable given the warmer weather. It also gets quite warm in Manduria and Salento at the bottom of the Puglia heal. Primitivo in this area is again full, rich and lush. I do enjoy both and they can definitely warm your soul. But the slightly cooler Gioia del Colli area produces Primitivo like no other with almost indescribable freshness and depth.
Primitivo is thin skinned and can over ripen quickly. Yet it can ripen unevenly too. Pasquale prefers to preserve acidity, hand harvesting at what he says is “…the right time to render the most authentic expression of the grape”. For him this is slightly under ripe.
For detailed information about the Primitivo grape scroll to the bottom to access links.
Continuing this discussion he walked us through a vineyard pointing out racemi, a term new to everyone in our group. It’s a secondary small crop of very small berries that develop a month after harvest.
What Can We Bring
After our vineyard walk Pasquale explained he’s the fifth generation of family to produce wine at Fatalone (Azienda Agricola Petrera Pasquale). His great grandpa wanted a harmonic relationship with the vines thus chose to farm without pesticides or herbicides from day one.
Continuing in both these veins Pasquale’s question was “What can we bring to the fruit now?” His initial answer was harmony and peace. Then he learned of music therapy and biodynamics and decided to apply them. The operation is 100% organic (utilizing some biodynamic techniques) with 100% of energy from solar panels resulting in zero CO2 emissions.
Serenading the Aging
Passing through the barrel room we paused, each thinking it a curious place to hear the music of rainfall, birds, and streams. Another new concept: micro vibrations of music improve the exchange of oxygen in wine. Although there is no scientific evidence to support this, Petrera shared each vintage and barrel react differently as a result and wine in those without music didn’t have the depth of complexity. I note he has a strong physics background!
Another Noteworthy Primitivo Producer
Oenologist Giovanni Aiello is located in Castellana Grotti in Puglia not far from Bari. Also producing Primitivo (just 2.5 hectares in Gioia del Colli) but again a different style from Manduria- he strives for fresh, energetic wines that show “the style of the area in the glass of wine”. Whole bunch fermentation is completed as part of this goal resulting in a more complex bouquet and deeper flavored wines. Like Fatalone, no filtration and minimal sulfur dioxide use is standard.
Giovanni considers himself an artisanal producer from vineyard to bottle- a person involved in all production steps yet with minimal intervention. This flows to his labels too. He developed a label stamp indicative of chakra (energy). For his Primitivo, called Chakra Rosso, he uses red. Red is the first Chakra color and relates to roots and connection of people to the soil.
How To Warm Your Winter Soul
During this time when cold and rainy days are common in Bordeaux I prefer sipping red wine and eating warm food. And I will reach for these beautiful Primitivo from these two Gioia di Colli producers. They go beyond fruitiness; they are wines for discussion and savoring.
These wines were tasted as part of the Radici de Sud “Territories and Terroir di Puglia” press trip. It included not only wine but the foods and cultural aspects around the areas of Bari, Gioia del Colli and the Itria Valley. GrapevineAdventures has a nice overview of all areas visited.
Fatalone Primitivo Classico 2016
Berries galore! High intensity aromatics of black slightly under ripe berries, cherries, and plums are concentrated but not sweet; mixed berries and cocoa powder grace the bright acid, medium bodied palate; fine tacky tannins; faint forest spice on the finish. This wine aged three-months in stainless tanks with a small amount in used barrels.
Fatalone Primitivo Riserva 2015
The winemaking difference? 24-36 hours of whole berry maceration and one year in used oak of varying ages (they keep their barrels on average 15 years). Note this vintage has some new oak as they changed cooperage.
Giovanni Aiello Chakra Rosso 2017 – IGT Pulia – 100% Primitivo
Aromas and flavors of ripe cherry and plum, licorice and cinnamon hints. The fruit is lasting and bright on the palate, the wine substantial with tacky yet soft tannins. Still a baby but delicious now.
The Italian Food, Wine and Travel Group
This month the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group help you find Italian wines and food for cold winter nights. Our host Camilla at Culinary Adventures With Camilla shares a preview here. You can check out the food and wines from other group members below. And we’ll be on Twitter January 5th for a chat at 11am ET with hashtag #ItalianFWT- join us if you’d like!
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm gives us Pure Comfort~~Pasta with a Bottle of Aglianico.
- Jill of L’Occasion posts For Table And Cellar: Warm Up With Italian Wine.
- David of Cooking Chat serves up Healthy Bolognese Sauce with a Tuscan Sangiovese.
- Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog shares A Surf and Turf Feast with Donnachiara Wines.
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest writes about Italian Wine To Warm Your Soul.
- Jane of Always Ravenous pairs Italian Meatballs with Donnachiara Wines.
- Gwendolyn of Wine Predator offers 4 Montepulciano Paired with Osso Bucco Warms Up Winter Italian Style plus #ItalianFWT plans for 2019.
- Nicole of Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Fontanafredda Barolo and Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms.
- Katarina of Grapevine Adventures encourages us to Get Cozy By The Fire With Italian Wine.
- Jennifer of Vino Travels is Starting the New Year with the Big Boys: Barolo and Barbaresco.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs a 2014 Camilla Barolo + Filet Mignon in a Creamy Mushroom Sauce.
For another take on Puglian Primitivo enjoy SnarkyWine.