October 26, 2005

A-Mano 2003 Puglia Primitivo

(Imported by Empson USA, Alexandria, Va.; about $10)

Spicy, chewy and deep, dark red, primitivo couldn't be more aptly named. The grape grows all over the south of Italy, in Puglia in particular, where the warm weather and plentiful sun let it grow fat and sweet.

If it reminds you of California's Zinfandel, you're not imagining things: In fact, the two are related. Italy's versions tend to be a little less sleek, a little more rustic than California zinfandel, their chewy, meaty flavors living up to the grape's name and the scrabbly land where the vines grow.

Another thing: They tend to be more affordable, like this bargain-priced version, juicy and spicy with an exotic anise note that brings a meal of roast lamb to mind.

This article originally appeared in the Denver Post.

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