Appears in
Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Italian name for the originally Croatian zinfandel grape (see also tribidrag), grown principally in puglia. Once highly prized for blending, in the 1990s it fell victim to the same EU vine pull scheme as negroamaro. Plantings fell to under 8,000 ha by the turn of the century but the 1994 confirmation by dNA profiling that Primitivo was Zinfandel led to commercial success as a varietal (rather than as a blending ingredient) and staunched the loss of vineyards in the 21st century. From 1999, Italian exporters have been allowed to label their Primitivo as Zinfandel and the Italian vine census of 2010 found a total vineyard area of 12,234 ha/30,231 acres, including non-DOC plantings. A move to limit the use of the name Primitivo solely to DOC wines was rejected by producers in 2005. Growers will be grateful, for the success of IGT Primitivo has meant that higher prices are now being paid for the grapes. This in turn has ensured that the variety is being replanted after years in which it was only grubbed up, as the backbreaking work involved in cultivating the bush vines was not remunerative.