Primitivo, so called because of its early ripening, is one of the most historical and appreciated red grapes of Italy, even internationally. It is native to the Balkans, brought to Puglia by the ancient Illyrians. The origin could be confirmed by the fact that in Croatia there still exists a vine, the plavac mali, which genetically is very similar to primitivo, even though a full genetic identity must be sought in zinfandel, a red grape characteristic of California. This family of grapes gives fairly uniform wines, whose common denominator is the very intense olfactory fruit and high concentration, with almost sugary softness, on the palate.
In Puglia and Salento, where it has been cultivated by the Benedictines since the seventeenth century, it is present in basically the whole region and is used to produce both red, rosé and sweet wines. In many areas it is vinified in blends with other grape varieties of the territory, such as nero di Troia or negroamaro, but in the most suitable areas it excels as a single variety. It is velvety and opulent in the Salento area closest to the sea, often on red clay and mineral soils, and in particular in the countryside of Manduria. Here a natural sweet typical version is also produced from grapes harvested late, left on the plant to cook in the sun and wind of Salento. And it is one of the best sweet red wines in Italy. In Gioia del Colle, further up in the hills and away from the sea, there is an area that some consider the classic of the primitivo. Here it expresses itself with greater aromatic finesse and with a slightly more elegant and mineral structure, in short, partly stripping away its full-bodied opulence. In general, although ready to drink in the more pop versions, it benefits from ageing in wood, which gives it spicy hints of cinnamon, cocoa, black pepper and liquorice.