Synonym: Primaticcio, Morellone, Uva di Corato, Uva dell Pergola, Primativo, Primativo di Gioia; Zinfandel (Hungary, USA and Australia); Plavac Mali, Crljenak (Croatia).
Commonly mistaken for: Zagarese.
Origin: The origins of this variety are very hard to trace; there are a few hypotheses proposed by different authors. Probably the original vines were brought in Italy (around Gioia del Colle in the Puglia region) from Hungary by Benedictine monks in 1600; another interesting hypothesis describes this variety as native of Dalmatia, historic region of Croatia (calling it Plavac Mali or Crljenak) and brought in the Puglia region about 2000 years ago by a Barbaric tribe of the Illiris. The American Zinfandel came from Hungary, carried in 1820 by George Gibbs, a New York nurseryman. Observing this variety in the various countries, also in Italy (Gioia del Colle and Maduria), the differences are immediately seen both in the morphology of the vines and in the final products obtained. This doesn't mean an ampelographic error of classification, on the contrary describes an intra-varietal evolution that has brought about the formation of a non uniform population. This hypothesis is confirmed by the DNA testing made the April 2002, where The American Alcohol and Tabacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) announced they will forthwith consider Zinfandel and Primitivo synonymous.
Agronomic and environmental aspects: Good, but inconsistent yield; good adaptability to zones with dry and windy climates; if the season is too humid and rainy it can show physiological alterations such as hen and chicken. Sensitive to spring frosts. It has a preference for calcareous-clay and medium compact soils. Medium-wide training system is required, with spur pruning, in Italy the “bush-vine” system is traditionally used (alberello pugliese), leaving 4-5 spurs per vine; but can be also suitable for training systems designed for full mechanization. Primitivo has a frequent tendency to set a later second crop (20-30%).
Diseases, pests and disorders: Low resistance to extreme weather conditions, sensitive to high humidity, drought and high summer temperatures. Medium resistance to powdery, downy mildew and botrytis.
Growing Tip: fully open, cottony, of yellowish-green colour with reddish edges.
Leaf: medium size, pentagonal, 5-lobed. Has a closed lyre shaped petiolar sinus with lobes strongly overlapped, superior side sinuses shaped like a closed lyre with lobes overlapped, while inferior are like an open U-shape. The profile is undulated and wrinkled.
Bunch: medium, long, of conical-cylindrical form, with or without wings, semi-compact.
Berry: medium dimensions, round; medium thick skin of blue colour, covered by medium quantity of bloom. The juice is sweet, aromatic, juicy and coloured.
- F11V6: Davis Clone, selected by University of California, USA.
- C11V7: Davis Clone, selected by University of California, USA.
It is a very versatile variety, can be vinified in many different styles, as a red wine it can be: light and fruity (Beaujolais style), or sophisticated and restrained, complex and age worthy (like a Bordeaux style); or high alcohol, ripe strong (Port style); also as rosé wine, pink, slightly sweet. The wine made from the grapes of this variety is generally of deep red colour with purplish reflexes, which become orange with the ageing, high acidity and tannic (because of the richness in anthocyanins of the berries), that with an ageing of 3-5 years it achieves a characteristic delicate vinous perfume, very fruity, jammy and raspberry-like flavour. In Italy it is cultivated in the Campania and Puglia regions, especially used for blending; it’s used in several DOC: Cilento, Falerno del Massico, Gioia del Colle, Primitivo di Manduria.