Saturday, November 7, 2020

Primitivo: Old World vs New World #ItalianFWT

Are you familiar with Primitivo?  We used to believe that Primitivo was made with the Zinfandel grape but Wine Spectator reports that, while closely related, Primitivo and Zinfandel are actually both clones of a Croation grape called Crljenak.

2 bottles of wine

I would have never learned this had our Italian Food Wine Travel group not chosen to delve into the world of Primitivo this month......
Gwendolyn of Wine Predator invited us to join her in exploring this wine that often was thought to be the same as zinfandel.  You can learn more in her invitation post.

I was surprised by what I learned about this wine as I compared Old World with New World.  I am anxious to see what others discovered this month.  We will all be comparing our notes this morning at 11 AM ET on twitter chat.  Please join in the fun by following #ItalianFWT.  Here are the topics we will be discussing.

  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla:"Pasta Fra Diavolo Topped with Stuffed Squid + Li Veli Orion Primitivo 2018"
  • Terri from Our Good Life: "Pumpkin Sage Alfredo with Scallops and Matanè Primitivo"
  • Linda from My Full Wine Glass: “Primitivo: Zin’s not quite identical twin”
  • Lynn from Savor the Harvest: "Pouring Primitivo, Four Wines From Puglia"
  • Susannah from Avvinare: "Tasting Primitivo di Manduria"
  • Nicole from Somm’s Table: "Two Sides of Coin: Primitivo and Zinfandel (with Ribs Two Ways)"
  • Wendy at A Day In The Life on the Farm: "Primitivo: Old World vs New World"
  • Jen at Vino Travels: "Primitivo:The Zinfandel of Southern Italy"
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator:"Godfather 3: Comparing a Turley Zin from California with an Italian Primitivo"

  • 2 bottles of wine

    I found and purchased a Tormaresca Torcicoda Primivito from Salento, Italy and a Casa Smith Porcospino Primivito from Seattle, Washington.  I opened them together and took a sip of each.  These are my intial tasting notes.

    Old Style: Russet, Brick Red, Spice, Musky, Medium Body, Acidic, Licorice, Chalk.

    New Style: Deep, Dark Red, Pepper, Smooth, Chalk, Full Body.

    I teethed on New World wines, only getting to know their roots and background when I joined this group, Wine Pairing Weekend and Winophiles.  It was no surprise to me that I preferred the wine from Washington. 

    2 bottles of wine

    I placed both glasses on the dining table and went off to complete a simple dinner of Spaghetti with meat sauce.

    Then, something funny happened on the way to the Forum......

    That wine from Italy, after having a chance to breathe, became smooth and soft.  When paired with the acidic spaghetti it had a hint of sweetness that I hadn't noted before.  It was a wonderful wine and an amazing pairing.

    The wine from Washington also had a hint of sweetness when paired with the food but it was not nearly as smooth and was much harsher than the Old World wine. I didn't notice that allowing it to breathe softened this wine as it did the Torcicoda.

    This was a very interesting experiment that I would never have experienced if not for this theme. Thanks Gwendolyn!  See you all at chat!! 


    1. I love how it transformed while you cooked! I much prefer the subtleness of Old World wines these days. Definitely different from when I first started drinking wine.

    2. Sounds like you had an "ah ha" moment with the Primitivo Wendy?!? As you say, my experience with Italian wine in general is that they have more of an acidic backbone than new world wines. Note that is a generalization- I've found several smaller producers with noted Zinfandel acidity. And no doubt, with pasta and tomato sauce, yes!

      1. I did have an ahah moment. I love learning new things about wine and about myself.

    3. I'd really like to try a Washington Primitivo after reading your post. And I'll take a pairing with spaghetti and meatballs any day!

    4. It's always so interesting to me to see wines unfold in this way. Looks like a delicious dinner, and I definitely need to keep an eye out for this version from Washington.


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