Primitivo is one of those grapes that you have high expectations but feel utterly dissapointed when didn’t deliver. Yep, that’s my experience with the poster grape of Puglia. I think the grape has always been having an identity crisis. As far as I known, It might be trying to produce a certified copy of a grotesque Zinfandel. Lots of Primitivo taste super oaky and jammy. You might be drinking a concoction of wood with different sort of black fruit marmalades.
For a while, I didn’t drink any Primitivo because it was so boring..until I discover the wines of Cristiano Guttarolo.
I never heard of this Cristiano fellow before. Actually, I bought by reputation only since the wines were featured in some of the best tables of Montreal that included Elena, Vin Papillon and Joe Beef. In addition, a few Italian natural wine cognoscenti were drinking Guttarolo so I went ahead and ordered my first cases. Now this was exactly last year.
I was hooked right away. Cristiano is like the horse whisperer for Primitivo and Negroamaro. He brings out a third dimension to the grapes. So much complexity bringing to mind layers of earth, vegetal undergrowth and succulent fruit. However, what’s more striking is the balance and elegance of the wines. This is just because Cristiano vineyards sit on a limestone plateau in Puglia 400 meters above sea level. Daytime temperatures are cooler than usual because of a strong influence from the sea.
Of course everything is done by hand and he is biological as well. Every Cuvée that he crafts is just electrifying. The latest one that I tried was it’s Amphora 2018 Primitivo. The wine spends a few days on skins before being pressed off in terracotta amphora to rest for 6 months.
I loved this wine. It was delicate and elegant displaying a floral side of Primitivo that I never experienced before. Very bright red fruit notes with a lovely juicy mouthfeel and a funky rustic feeling. It has a bit of volatile acidity that adds complexity to the wine.
It is available as a private import in Quebec, imported via Glou. $49.30. It is by case of 6 only. I paired it with ravioli with mushrooms in a tomato sauce