Radici Wines Festival

Fatalone, the best Primitivo ever?

Even though I’d tasted the wines previously, I first met Pasquale Petrera, producer of my favorite Primitivo, in June 2011 when I was a judge at the Radici Wines Festival in Puglia, a celebration of and competition between producers and bottlers of indigenous grape varieties of Southern Italy.

That’s the inimitable Pasquale, above, pronouncing the grape (and wine) name Primitivo in Apulian dialect (Pugliese).

Primitivo — an early ripening grape that delivers juicy, naturally fruit-forward wines — has been grown in Puglia (Apulia) for roughly three centuries and is believed to have originated in the northern arc of the Adriatic basin.

A lot of commercial Primitivo makes it to US shores and a lot of is good. But of all the appellations where Primitivo is allowed, Gioia del Colle — the sole hilly wine-growing area in the region — makes for wines with gorgeous freshness and lip-smacking acidity. It’s always a thrill for me to pour Pasquale’s wines for my Italian wine biz friends: even some of the most veteran tasters will admit that they have never tasted a Primitivo like Pasquale’s and the wine is always a winner.

Pasquale employs chemical free farming and spontaneous fermentation (with native yeasts) and his wines reward me with the freshness, the technical fruit, and the acidity that only Natural wines can.

We’ve featured his reserve wines for some time here at Sotto but tonight, with the launch of our new list for 2012, we’re debuting his entry-tier Primitivo by the glass.

If you come down to the restaurant tonight or tomorrow, I’ll pour you a taste and you’ll see what higher elevation and slopes can deliver — even in sun-burnt Apulia.

It’s one of my favorites and it’s also a staff favorite.

—Jeremy Parzen
wine director