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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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  • Rabbit Ridge Primitivo Westside Collection 2001
    Primitivo from California
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    • Cantele Primitivo 2011
      Primitivo from Italy
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      • Vini Menhir Quota 31 Primitivo 2012
        Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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        • Cantine Due Palme Sangaetano Primitivo di Manduria 2012
          Primitivo from Puglia, Italy
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        • Uvaggio Primitivo 2010
          Primitivo from Lodi, California
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        • Feudi di San Gregorio Primitivo 2009
          Primitivo from Italy
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          • Layer Cake Primitivo aka Zinfandel 2011
            Primitivo from Italy
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            • Uvaggio Primitivo 2015
              Primitivo from Lodi, California
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              • Cantele Primitivo 2002
                Primitivo from Italy
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              • Boeger Primitivo 2014
                Primitivo from El Dorado, Sierra Foothills, California
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                • Feudo Monaci Primitivo 2002
                  Primitivo from Italy
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                  • Layer Cake Primitivo aka Zinfandel 2010
                    Primitivo from Italy
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                    • Jacuzzi Primitivo 2013
                      Primitivo from Lake County, North Coast, California
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                      • Cantele Primitivo 2001
                        Primitivo from Italy
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                        • Botromagno Primitivo 2005
                          Primitivo from Italy
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                        • Cantele Primitivo 2005
                          Primitivo from Italy
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                        • Fiddletown The Soloist Red Blend 2013
                          Primitivo from Fiddletown, Sierra Foothills, California
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                        • Li Veli Orion Primitivo 2012
                          Primitivo from Italy
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                          • Cantele Primitivo 2012
                            Primitivo from Italy
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                            • Botromagno Primitivo 1999
                              Primitivo from Italy
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                              • Botromagno Primitivo 2003
                                Primitivo from Italy
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                                • Cantele Primitivo 2009
                                  Primitivo from Italy
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                                  • Botromagno Primitivo 2001
                                    Primitivo from Italy
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                                    • Feudi Di San Marzano Primitivo Luccarelli 2004
                                      Primitivo from Italy
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                                      • Castello Monaci Primitivo Piluna 2008
                                        Primitivo from Italy
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