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Primitivo

Responsible for inky, brambly, and ripe-fruited wines...

Responsible for inky, brambly, and ripe-fruited wines, Primitivo bears more than a passing resemblance to Zinfandel—and there’s a very good reason for this. Depending on whom you ask, the two varieties are either one and the same, or extremely similar clones of a third variety—the Croatian Tribidrag. Primitivo was brought to Italy from Croatia in the late 1800s and became an important variety in the hot, dry region of Puglia in the country’s south. Primitivo is sometimes labeled as Zinfandel for export.

In the Glass

The flavors of Primitivo are, naturally, very similar to those of Zinfandel, but often it is somewhat earthier, leaner, and more structured, with lower alcohol. Typical characteristics include ripe berry fruit, plum, black pepper, fresh earth, and sweet baking spice.

Perfect Pairings

Primitivo pairs best with full-flavored, hearty meat dishes like roasted lamb, beef brisket, hamburgers, or anything barbecued. Alcohol levels tend to be lower than those of Zinfandel, which means it can pair with slightly spicy cuisine like Indian curries, meatballs with Moroccan seasonings, or beef fajitas.

Sommelier Secret

The link between Primitivo and Zinfandel is quite a recent discovery. The two were believed to be siblings until 2001, when grape geneticists at UC Davis identified them as identical. While European producers are allowed to use the two names interchangeably, the US does not yet permit this.

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  • Cantele Primitivo 2015
    Primitivo from Italy
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    • Layer Cake Primitivo aka Zinfandel 2014
      Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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      • Feudi di San Gregorio Primitivo 2012
        Primitivo from Italy
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        • Leone de Castris Primitivo di Manduria Villa Santera 2015
          Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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          • Tormaresca Torcicoda Primitivo 2012
            Primitivo from Italy
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            • Andis Primitivo 2014
              Primitivo from Amador, Sierra Foothills, California
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              • Botromagno Primitivo 2015
                Primitivo from Italy
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                • La Fiera Primitivo Salento 2016
                  Primitivo from Veneto, Italy
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                  • Matane Primitivo Puglia 2015
                    Primitivo from Italy
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                    • Li Veli Orion Primitivo 2015
                      Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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                      • Jacuzzi Primitivo 2015
                        Primitivo from Lake County, North Coast, California
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                        • Angel Vine Primitivo 2013
                          Primitivo from Columbia Valley, Washington
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                          • Matane Primitivo Di Manduria Il Matane 2015
                            Primitivo from Italy
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                            • Hendry Block 24 Primitivo 2013
                              Primitivo from Napa Valley, California
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                              • Castello Monaci Artas Primitivo 2015
                                Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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                                • Uvaggio Primitivo 2015
                                  Primitivo from Lodi, California
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                                • Hendry Block 24 Primitivo 2014
                                  Primitivo from Napa Valley, California
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                                  • Castello Monaci Piluna Primitivo 2016
                                    Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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                                    • Vini Menhir Quota 31 Primitivo 2011
                                      Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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