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Primitivo: A return to the old ways

Primitivo is practically synonymous with Puglia and the south of Italy. Yet it is taking a plucky band of pioneers to re-establish it in its truest form, as a bush vine. Monty Waldin reports

The origins of Primitivo

Monty Waldin’s taste of bush-vine Primitivo

In the early 1990s they found that a Croatian grape called variously Tribidrag and Crljenak was the same as Primitivo, and all were the same as California’s Zinfandel. Crljenak would have travelled to Italy across the Adriatic Sea, although exactly when this happened may never be known. In the early 1800s the vine went via Austria to America, where it was grown on the East Coast, initially as a table grape. It was then taken to California during the mid-19th-century gold rush, where thirsty miners and others made it into wine, by which time it had become known as Zinfandel.

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