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Award-winning Zinfandel & Primitivo: 15 to try

To celebrate Zinfandel Day, we highlight a selection of award-winning wines from Decanter World Wine Awards to discover.

The origins of Zinfandel trace back to Croatia where it’s known as Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski. In the US, the variety is known as Zinfandel, playing a key role in the establishment of California’s wine industry, and in Italy it’s recognised as Primitivo where the region of Puglia is home.

Though elegant, fruity and fresh styles exist, Zinfandel tends to include brambly red and black berry aromas, dried and cooked fruits alongside spice, sometimes with vanilla or chocolatey notes from oak.

Growing well in a warm climate, high sugar levels at harvest lead to high alcohol wines, yet the best examples balance this well with concentration of flavour, a rich mouthfeel and considered acidity.


Scroll down to see the top Zinfandel & Primitivo wines from DWWA 2023


From rich and robust Californian reds to cherry-scented, spicy Puglian variations and savoury, jammy Dalmatian wines, results from Decanter World Wine Awards  (DWWA) 2023 highlight the wide range of styles produced from this often underrated grape variety.

This year’s highest scoring Zinfandel was awarded to its ancestral rendition as Tribidrag, to Galić’s Ego Tribidrag, Sjeverna Dalmacija, Coastal, Croatia 2019. Awarded 95 points and a Gold medal, the DWWA judges noted its savoury aromas and flavours and long and delicious finish. Also from Sjeverna Dalmacija, Kraljevski Vinogradi’s Punta Skala Crljenak 2019 is of note too, expressing an elegant style of the variety with a vibrant palate and cherry and spice aromatics; the judges awarding this 94 points.

From Italy, a majority of Silver medals (90-94 points) were awarded to Primitivos from Puglia, with one powerful, bold and brooding wine from Campania making the list. To the US, a couple high Bronze medals (88-89 points) were awarded to Californian Zinfandels from Napa Valley and Paso Robles.

Celebrated annually on the third Wednesday of November, below discover 15 medal-winning wines to celebrate National Zinfandel Day, with more to discover at awards.decanter.com

Award-winning Zinfandel & Primitivo: 15 to try

Croatia

Galić, Ego Tribidrag, Sjeverna Dalmacija, Coastal 2019

Gold, 95 points
The aromas of bay leaf, prune, jam, and dried fruit are superb. On the palate, high tannins are present along with notes of forest floor, dried herbs, and dried fruit. The finish is long and delicious. Alcohol 14%

Kraljevski Vinogradi, Punta Skala Crljenak, Sjeverna Dalmacija, Coastal 2019

Silver, 94 points
Cherry and spice aromatics, followed by a vibrant palate. Overall it’s quite elegant for the terroir and variety, with medium persistence. Alc 13.5%

Italy

Masseria Cuturi, Monte Diavoli, Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia 2019

Silver, 92 points
Raisin and prune aromas alongside black cherry fruit notes and hints of Mediterranean herbs. Structured and elegant mouth. Very long. Alc 16.5%

Tenuta Viglione, Maioliche Primitivo, Puglia 2021

Silver, 92 points
Very fruity and elegant with subtle notes of sweet and black spices, prunes, peony, pencil shavings and cocoa. Supple tannins. Alc 13%

Vetrère, Barone Pazzo Primitivo, Primitivo Salento, Puglia 2020

Silver, 92 points
Sweet aromas of vanilla and blackcurrant with a touch of violets and smoky nuances. Juicy texture with velvety tannins. Alc 14.5%

Beato Vini, Sant’anastasia, Primitivo di Manduria, Puglia 2019

Silver, 91 points
Blackberry and cooked black cherries on the nose, with hints of rosemary. Lovely texture on the palate, plenty of rich fruit. Alc 15.5%

Tenute Bianchino, Ager Fluens, Campania 2019

Silver, 91 points
Red and black forest fruits, aromas with a touch of tea leaves and coffee. A powerful wine, bold and brooding. Alc 15%

Tenute Chiaromonte, Contrada Scappagrano Primitivo, Puglia 2020

Silver, 91 points
Really sweet jammy fruit, some violet, liquorice and bramble, bitter chocolate and coffee undertones. Fine tannins, rich and sweet finish. Alc 14.5%

Allegro, Organic Primitivo, Puglia 2021

Silver, 90 points
Lifted floral aromas with rich red and dark plummy fruit, hints of spices and flowers. Rich and ripe palate. Alc 14%

Cantina Sampietrana, Tre Filari Primitivo, Salento, Puglia 2021

Silver, 90 points
Attractive lifted aromas, balsamic nose with notes of tart cranberries, plump blackberries, sweet spices and hints of roses. Velvety texture. Alc 14.5%

Claudio Quarta, Sud Del Sud, Salento, Puglia 2019

Silver, 90 points
Lovely aromas of ripe blackcurrants, blueberries and black cherries with touches of liquorice, mint and cedar. Sumptuous and succulent. Alc 14.5%

Mare Magnum, Mauro Alberello Primitivo, Salento, Puglia 2021

Silver, 90 points
Deep plummy and blackberry aromas, with notes of liquorice, showing earthy and herbal undertones. Smooth tannins, rich and concentrated. Alc 13.5%

Vigneti Del Salento, Zolla, Primitivo di Manduria 2020

Silver, 90 points
Wonderfully intense black fruit on the nose, with notes of black cherries, chocolate and dried figs. Chocolatey on the palate. Alc 14.5%

United States

Grgich Hills Estate, Zinfandel, Napa Valley, California 2018

Bronze, 89 points
Savoury character on the nose, with plummy dark fruits and baking spices. Fresh acidity on the palate. Alc 14.9%

Chronic Cellars, Purple Paradise, Paso Robles, California 2021

Bronze, 88 points
(70% Zinfandel) Ripe, brambly fruit character with savoury undertones. Plummy fruit on the palate, easy to drink. Alc 14.5%


Search all DWWA 2023 results


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Indigenous Italy: Classic wines with regional flair

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