Wine: Nuschese Primitivo IGT
Region: Salento, Southern Italy
Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquor Stores
In the glass: Nuschese Primitivo wine is a deep purplish opaque red with a dense blackish core going out into a dark-violet rim definition with a pink meniscus and showing pretty high viscosity with “long legs” as the wine slowly moves down the inside of the glass.
On the nose: A tremendous concentration emanates from the glass — a melange of warm blueberry pie, elderberry crush, spice cake, pipe tobacco, new oak and fruit-driven minerals with touches of phenolic compounds.
On the palate: Heading straight for the full-bodied, muscular and powerfully concentrated category, this primitivo clearly shows why this variety is a direct relation to zinfandel, showing immense spicy black fruit with complete domination by sweet crushed blackberries, black cherries and stewed huckleberries. The midpalate has very big yet soft tannins, but the sweetness of the fruit tempers them well, taking the wine through to the finish, which lingers with blackberry jam laced with residual alcohol trying to volatilize and nice chewiness for at least 30 seconds.
Odds and ends: The southernmost part of Italy — the Salento and Puglia regions, as well as Sicily and Sardinia — is a lot warmer than the north. One of the typical grape varieties planted in the south is the primitivo, which together with nero d’avola, negroamaro and aglianico are among the most robust and full-bodied grape varieties in Europe. Primitivo has been shown to have been the grape variety Italian immigrants brought with them and planted all over the coastal areas of California from about the 1870s and is virtually identical to the zinfandel grape as we know it here. This also explains why this Nuschese wine resembles a “zin.” One common denominator between zin and primitivo is the relatively high alcohol and the “fruit-bomb” appearance on the palate. But residual sugar in the wine is common and that is why there’s a sense of sweetness, too. This is a thoroughly well-made wine and it is highly recommended for a big juicy medium-rare organic bison burger. Open about one hour before consumption and serve at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Drink it now through 2015.
Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.