We are in Apulia, “the heel of the Italy’s boot”, a region that extends for over than 350 kilometres between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea and we talk about one of its native vines. We find a mainly flat and hilly territory, where the typically Mediterranean climate is the master, alternating with the decidedly warm climate of Tavoliere plain (an area enclosed between the Apennines of Capitanata to the west, the Gargano Promontory and the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Murge plateau to the south).
Gioia del Colle Primitivo, was born before that of Manduria, it probably comes from Dalmatia and seems to have been brought to Apulia more than 2000 years ago, by the people of the Illyrians. A priest of Gioia del Colle, father Francesco Filippi Indelicati, noticed in the 18th century an early ripening (between the end of August and the first week of September) grape variety marked by a strong growth. This characteristic generates the Latin name Primitivo. We are on the Murge plateau, 360 metres above sea level and the Primitivo finds here the ideal habitat, because its grapes are extremely closed to each other, they need a dry and warm climate, with intense but short rains that allows them to dry in a short time and stay dry. Only later, from the end of the 19th century onwards, the cultivation of this vine has extended from the Murge plateau to the current provinces of Lecce and Taranto and then in Salento.
In 1987 the Gioia del Colle Primitivo was recognized as Denomination of Controlled Origin. It is also interesting, in the light of accurate analysis started in 1967 by the American pathologist Austin Goheen, how in the 1990s the same genetic identity was verified between the Primitivo and the California’s Zinfandel.
Also the Gioia del Colle Primitivo, like the other red wines of Southern Italy loaded with colour and alcohol, from the second half of the 19th century was intended for the blending of Northern Italy and France wines. Over time, however, the production of wines to be blended and sold in bulk has been significantly reduced in favour of more and more interesting wines.
Today Gioia del Colle Primitivo is mainly bred in the traditional alberello pugliese (Apulia-style little tree) method, the wine has an intense ruby colour and scents of red fruits such as black cherry, plums and blackberries. The aging in wood generates spicy hints like cinnamon and black pepper. On the palate is warm, with a good persistence. It can be combined with the well-known plate of orecchiette with turnip greens, or even with crostoni of bread of Altamura and Apulian caciocavallo, or even with a plate of Apulian “bombette“, that is to say pork rolls stuffed with caciocavallo.