Lirica, Elegia, Sonetto: Poetry in a glass by Produttori Vini Manduria- Masters of Primitivo.
Wine + Travel
A series by Antimo Cimino founder of VoomaGo, an experiential travel company focusing on authentic off-the-beaten-path journeys in Italy.
I remember the days of the grape harvest as if it were yesterday
Around age eight I would help out in the countryside, and in spite of being tired after picking grapes, I would light up when it was time to bring the grapes to the consorsio and watch the crush. During my latest visit home, I had the pleasure to visit Produttori Vini Manduria, the crib of one of Puglia’s best wine, Primitivo di Manduria and the place where my dad would bring his grapes when I was a little boy.
This time I was just as excited to meet Vittorio Moscogiuri the General Manager of Produttori Vini Manduria along with Anna Gennari, their Marketing and Public Relations Director to talk about the king of reds, Primitivo di Manduria. Vittorio has worked at Produttori Vini for 28 years becoming a widely recognized wine expert. He talks with pride and passion about the care they take to produce high quality wines. Produttori Vini Manduria was founded back in 1932 and has been operating since then distinguishing themselves as Masters of Primitivo. With more than 400 members, it is not only the oldest, it is the biggest winery in the town of Manduria.
Amazing Passion for Primitivo
I was spellbound by the way Vittorio spoke about Primitivo as we enjoyed a glass together. He spoke like a man making love to a glass of wine, describing with intensity the complex aroma and bouquet.
The wine was Elegia, a reserve with a beautiful ruby red color and an intense nose of wild berries, vanilla spices and balsamic ending. I was literally lost in the glass with my mind wondering to beautiful places. Their wines, Lirica and Sonetto, I would describe as poetry in a glass.
The Madrigale a Primitivo DOCG Dolce Naturale, my all time favorite, exploded in sensuous, voluptuous sensations!
Our conversation also touched on the importance of the Primitivo in the Puglia region. I was shocked to learn how big the reality of primitivo was: 12,000 hectares of land yielding 25,000 thousand pounds of grapes, and 15 millions bottles of Primitivo Di Manduria DOC. Vittorio informed me that the interest in Primitivo rose in second half of 1990s when technology changed the fate of this incredible grape and helped launch Primitivo in the world. When in the old days local farmers made wine, the temperature was not controlled during the fermentation so the quality of the wine would suffer by being burned by the heat of the fermentation in addition to the local heat between 100 and 105 fahrenheit. The flavor was suddenly transformed but technology eventually helped control the temperature and therefore keep the quality of the wine and its best characteristics.
What else makes Primitivo wine so unique? “Perhaps one simple detail, the crushed grapes rest in contact with the skin for a few days because it is in the skin that lays all the properties of our Primitivo” said Vittorio.
The museum of farming civilization
My visit ended downstairs with Anna Gennari who showed me where the museum of farming civilization (How the people of Manduria lived and farmed) was created inside of the old cement cells where until 25 years ago the wine fermented. As soon as we were down, I felt a chill in my spine as I remembered that the times when my grandfather would go to the countryside by horse and work in the fields barefooted were not that far away. When you walk around the streets of Manduria you can still see many signs of an old tired farming town but you can also see pockets of modernity. Primitivo keeps on giving to Manduria with a wine that carries remarkable quality, tradition and history, it is also responsible for the socio-economic improvement of the region. It was great to see that Produttori Vini di Manduria was not just another winery but a supporter and promoter of Southern Italian culture, history and heritage.
King of reds in Southern Italy
As a native of Manduria, I am proud to see that Primitivo di Manduria has gone from being an immigrant in its own land (Imported by Northern Italy and France to cut local wines) to become a king of reds in Southern Italy and is quickly gaining global status. In fact, not long ago, during the visit of Juan Carlos King of Spain and Maria Sofia the Queen, Primitivo was the wine the Italian President chose to serve in their honor.
The following day, I also had the pleasure to meet with Raffaele Sammarco, a member of Produttori Vini Manduria and an authority when it comes to traditions and the cultivation of Primitivo vines. When I asked Raffaele to tell me about himself and his relationship with Primitivo, he replied:
“I was literally born under a grapevine. I kid you not, I gave my first steps in the red dirt of a Primitivo field. I am very passionate about the evolution of this industry and the innovation, I like to improve cultivation by taking advantage of new technology. I am conscious that one has to go forward while keeping the learning from generations before us that taught me what I know today. I am happy about the marriage between the old and the new. Almost nothing is really new when you think about it, it’s more like a re-discovery and interpretation of problem solving that my grandparents did instinctively according to nature.”
Listening to this seasoned vintner, with fire in his eyes, I heard his passion for the region: “Il Primitivo e’ nel mio sangue, nelle radici della mia famiglia e del territorio… fa parte della mia identity” -” Primitivo is in my blood, in the roots of my family, and the territory in which i live. I cannot get away from it, it is my identity.”
Learn more at www.cpvini.com
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