Photo © Patricia Thomson

Primitivo vs. Zinfandel

By Spitting: Optional

Overview: This week I’ve tried something a little different, over two nights, with the same meal I’ve tried an Italian Primitivo and an Australian Zinfandel. What’s the difference between Primitivo and Zinfandel? Well nothing, they are both the same variety so why the different names? Well it’s a little like calling corn ‘corn’ in Australia and calling corn ‘maize’ in America. In Italy they call the variety ‘Primivito’ and in California they call it ‘Zinfandel’ and true to the Australian way we grow it, produce it and call it both depending on what the winemaker thinks may sound more romantic. How romantic can you get? Primitivo sounds like a new model of Volkswagen and Zinfandel sounds like some hideous war crime.

Any way, I digress, I tasted the A-Mano Primitivo 2008 IGT and the Elderton Estate Zinfandel 2009 and while both were similar they were time very different at the same time, not only because one comes from Puglia, Italy and the other from the Barossa Valley but because of the very nature of the grape itself.

To avoid confusion the variety will be referred to, from here onwards, as Zimitivodel, not a registered synonym for the grape but give it time… Zimitivodel is a grape that grow in large bunches, the bunch ripens unevenly which means you can have very ripe berries mixed with green berries on the same bunch. Thus you can hand pick the grapes at the sugar level you want – disregarding the unripe grapes, or you can patiently wait for the whole bunch to ripen which means higher sugar levels which translates into higher alcohol content and very concentrated fruit.

A- Mano (13.5% Alc) is an example of the first way of handling the grape and the Elderton (16% Alc) the second way of cultivating the variety.

Tasting Notes:

            A-Mano Primitivo 2009: Vibrant ruby in colour. The nose is of white pepper, cherry and strawberry, these characters follow on to the palate complimented by sandalwood and aniseed and soft tannins.

Elderton Zinfandel 2009: A nose of sour cherry, pepper and cinnamon. Initially on the palate there is a punch in the face of strawberry and game but a richness lingers. Chocolate and persistent acid on the finish.

Final Say: So what was the result? Well both were similar in their primary fruit characters the main difference was the spice. Both wines were a touch short on the back palate, which suggests to me that a small amount of another variety should be blended in to fill that black hole. My preference is with the Italian Zimitivodel, I found that the wine developed a great aniseed character as it opened up which was very seductive. Both wines were tried with a Moroccan Lamb Casserole, a great food match.

Scores:

A-Mano: 16.5 A great drop (83 out of 100)

Elderton: 16 Well worth a try (80 out of 100)

For any questions or feedback feel free to email me on spittingoptional@gmail.com

Also, check you the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Spitting-Optional/314535381931908?sk=wall

Jack Davis

Spitting: Optional

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