San Marzano, “62 Anniversario” Primitivo di Manduria Riserva 2017 (about $36)

Italian Wine for september, 2022

Primitivo is the flagship wine of the Puglia region. While the variety is grown throughout central and southern Italy, it is in the Puglia region that Primitivo achieves the ultimate in structure and complexity. Primitivos made by reliable Puglia producers are earthy, opulent and high-quality wines marketed at reasonable prices.

Primitivo is both the name of the variety and the wine it produces. For those unfamiliar with the variety, the “Primitivo” name can be misleading because it implies something basic or underdeveloped. Rather, the word is related to “primo” which in Italian translates as “first” or “prime” and is so named because it’s the first variety to ripen, typically in mid-to-late August or early September.

The San Marzano winery is located in the heart of the Primitivo di Manduria DOC in the Salento Peninsula, the southern-most part of Puglia. The weather here is characterized by hot days and little rainfall but with beneficial daytime-nighttime temperature variations. The warm daytime temperatures promote rich flavors while cool nights provide a respite from the heat and enhance aromas and acidity.

Cantine San Marzano is a cooperative winery that dates back to 1962 when 19 local growers decided to join together with the goal of enhancing the quality of locally produced wines with a focus on traditional local varieties. The number of cooperative members has increased substantially over time along with vineyard acreage.

Today San Marzano produces a number of red, white and rosé as well as several sparkling wines made principally, but not exclusively, with indigenous varieties such as Negroamaro, Primitivo, Susumaniello, Malvasia Nera and Verdeca.

San Marzano’s 2017 Primitivo di Manduria Riserva “62 2017 "62 Anniversario" Primitivo di Manduria Riserva from the San Marzano winery in PugliaAnniversario” is a cru wine made entirely of super-ripe Primitivo grapes hand-harvested from a single small vineyard plot of over-60-year-old vines. The grapes are fermented for 10 days in stainless steel tanks and then aged in a combination of American and French oak barrels for 18 months. The wine clocks in with 14.5 percent alcohol.

The wine is made in an extroverted style. It is almost black in color and is full-bodied, rich and textured with ripe black cherry and dried plum flavors with some spice notes. The abundant tannins are velvety and soft-edged and the dense texture is carried along by a subtle tug of acidity and freshness. Discreet balsamic notes give lift to a long finish.  Even though it has a weighty structure with an almost chewy texture and mouthfeel it doesn’t overwhelm or lose its sense of style and structure.

The “62 Anniversario” Primitivo di Manduria Riserva celebrates the founding of the San Marzano cooperative. This special gravitas-laden bottle has a deep punt and is quite heavy so a strong grip and steady hand are required when pouring.

This Primitivo di Manduria Riserva would be a welcome addition at any dining table where richly-flavored first courses, red meats prepared any which way or aged cheeses are on the menu.


©Richard Marcis
September 9, 2022

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