Castello Monaci, “Piluna” Primitivo 2015 (about $15)

Italian Wine for february, 2020

Primitivo, Zinfandel’s Italian cousin, thrives in the southern part of the Puglia region located in the “heel” of the “boot” that comprises geographic Italy. It wasn’t that long ago that Primitivo had a well-deserved reputation as a rustic, easy drinking and plentiful wine of which the vast majority was consumed locally or shipped north for use as a blending wine.

However, due to the diligent work of some quality-oriented producers in improving vineyard management protocols and vinification techniques, overall quality dramatically improved and launched Primitivo as a quality wine onto the international wine stage.

Primitivo is Puglia’s most famous indigenous grape variety and can produce powerful wines with good ageing potential. Primitivos from quality producers are earthy, opulent wines that generally offer high quality at very reasonable prices. If you’re not familiar with Primitivo, Castello Monaci’s “Piluna” Primitivo is a great introduction to the pleasures of Primitivo.

Castello Monaci is located just outside the small town of Salice Salentino in southern Puglia. Although currently owned by Gruppo Italiano Vini, Italy’s largest wine consortium, it continues to maintain a strong local identity by producing a range of classical Puglian red wines from indigenous grape varieties such as Primitivo, Malvasia Nera and Negroamaro.

Castello Monaci 2015 "Piluna" Primitivo from Puglia“Piluna” translates as “clay pot” in Greek and refers to the traditional containers in which the local farmers would store water.

Piluna is made entirely of Primitivo grapes harvested from the estate’s vineyards surrounding the 16th century Castello Monaci. The grapes are harvested by hand from the break of dawn to no later than 9 o’clock AM in order to avoid the hot sunlight and preserve the grapes’ sugar levels. The harvested grapes are fermented for 2 weeks in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures and then aged for 6 months in a combination of 75 percent stainless steel and 25 percent used French oak vats.

The 2015 Piluna has a dark, light-blocking purple-red color. A gentle swishing of the glass reveals exuberant ripe black fruit aromas with some peppery spice notes. It is full-bodied with an intense and spicy character, firm tannins and ripe, dark fruit flavors that really takes flight with a long savory finish.

It is a generous and engaging but firmly structured wine with good ageing potential. It is a pleasure to drink from start to finish and at about $15 a bottle is one of the best values in Italian wine today.

Serve with roasts, stews and game. It’s best to open or decant at least 1 or 2 hours before serving.


©Richard Marcis
February 23, 2020

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