Known as Zinfandel here, it was the most widely planted California varietal during the original “wine boom” of 1878 to 1889. Some say the Croations first brought it here, some say the Greeks. In Southern Italy, it’s Primitivo. I was lucky enough to get styled with a bottle of Castello Monaci’s “Piluna” Primitivo last night. What a find! Vibrant, violet/red, this perfumed, spiced dark red cherry bomb hails from Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. It is said that this wine was “disegnati dal sole”, meaning “crafted by the sun”. The mineral backbone, focused by the hammering Southern Italian sun has truly crafted a bold, juicy, well-balanced spice treat. I find it somewhat ironic that what is arguably our best food-pairing wine actually comes from Europe. For the money (under $15), I’ll take a stellar Primitivo like this one rather than an over-priced, over-alcoholized Cali Zin any day. Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate agrees, giving Castello Monaci’s 2006 “Piluna” Primitivo 90 points.
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