As stated previously, the Gioia del Colle zone of Apulia is enjoying a strong revival with its primitivo wines, which up until fairly recently had taken a decidedly second-rank position relative to the primitivos from the Manduria zone. Compared to the Manduria zone, the area of Gioia del Colle is at greater altitude, cooler, windier and extremely rocky. Top soils are thin, with the karstic Murge calcareous rocks immediately underneath. The position enjoys constant winds, oscillating between the Ionic and Adriatic Seas. Without doubt, the area has all the prerequisites for making great wine, and it was long a mystery to me that the obviously great potential was not being realized.
Thankfully, this is no longer a fact. There is now a couple of handfuls of really good producers of Gioia del Colle primitivo. Among the forefront of this happy development is the property of Pietraventosa (literally “windy rock”). The lively, energetic owner of this small property, Marianna Annio, really has something to boast about. Pietraventosa has shot to comparative fame in a very short space of time with wines of uncommon firmness and freshness, relatively (the word “relatively” is key here) low in alcohol, and with lots of good berry fruitiness, juiciness, high minerality and intensity. Yet with all the hallmarks of great primitivos.
The property has vineyards of some 5.4 hectares in total, with 4.4 hectares of 12-year-old vines and 1 hectare of 45-year-old vines. Viticulture is attentive, more or less organic, with low yields, as you would expect. Winemaking is fairly modern, and new barriques are used to some extent. For obvious reasons production is not large, but the level is high.
My tasting notes:
Gioia del Colle Primitivo Allegoria 2008
Juicy, crisp, dark berry nose, slightly spicy, hints of chocolate, violets, snail/meat. Juicy in the mouth, good freshness and acidity, round tannins. Good length, small dark berries, white chocolate, spices and minerals. Lovely, juicy, highly drinkable wine. White chocolate is a frequent taste marker for me in Gioia del Colle primitivos.
Murgia Rosso Ossimoro 2008
This is 75% primitivo and 25% aglianico. Juicy nose with red and dark berries, tobacco, flowers, dry spices and hint of chocolate. Juicy and fresh in the mouth, good acidity and a good dose of fine-grained tannins. Good length with red and dark berries, flowers and minerals. Lovely wine, the voluptuous and immediate nature of primitivo being cut with the lighter fruit notes, greater acidity and more noticeable tannins of aglianico, and even with a hint of the trademark aglianico tobacco.
Gioia del Colle Primitivo Riserva 2008
Deep, intense and deliciously sweet nose of dark berries, oriental spices, flowers and white chocolate. Firm, concentrated, fresh, juicy, yet soft in the mouth, hint of wood tannins. Long, spicy, dark fruits, minerals, touch of barrique spice, very convincing. Very handsome wine, still very young and with a great future ahead of it. I discussed with Marianna the level of barrique flavour, which – though restrained – had me thinking that the wine would have been even better with a bit less wood influence. Marianna felt that the barrique was only noticeable due to the wine having just been released and still being very young. I agree that this is very likely, and am certain that the wine will integrate and overcome the wood.
Pietraventosa make wonderful, highly drinkable, yet profound wine, of the terroir, and with obvious staying power. This is definitely a producer to follow very closely.