Primitivo, Salento Rosato
Attanasio’s Primitivo Rosato, aged partly in steel tank and partly in above-ground glazed clay amphorae—which keep the lees in suspension and lend the wine roundness and textural depth—is profoundly spicy, with notes of cinnamon and sun-baked herbs flanking a palate of glycerin-like heft. As with his reds, Alessandro achieves an admirable balance between wildness and restraint here, although it is adamantly a rosato that beckons for food.
Primitivo di Manduria
The workhorse of the estate, Attanasio’s Primitivo di Manduria comes from vines between 40 and 50 years of age. Primitivo—better known in the United States as Zinfandel—delivers brawny tannins alongside its explosively rich fruit, and thus Attanasio favors releasing his wines after a few years of resting in bottle so that these tannins are better harmonized. Aged for 12 months in steel followed by 16 months in 225-liter barriques (20% new, and the remainder four or five years old), this wine leads with licorice cushioned by thick, brambly plum and black cherry fruit; subtler notes of fresh pipe tobacco and unsweetened chocolate add complexity. Amazingly, this riotous palate resolves to a clean, penetrating finish, with the impression of acidity rising sharply as the sensation of richness recedes. 16% alcohol by volume.
Primitivo di Manduria Riserva
Attanasio allocates a small portion of his Primitivo harvest to the production of a Riserva, making a maximum of 2,000 bottles per vintage. Like the workhorse above, this wine spends its first 12 months in steel, and is then transferred to 225-liter barriques; after one year, Alessandro selects the very best barrels to be bottled as the Riserva, keeping them in these barrels for an additional year, then moving them to tiny 114-liter barrels for a third year of barrel aging. The Riserva ratchets up the tobacco and earth elements of the basic bottling, and the fruit, though just as luscious, rises up through the wine more reservedly and with less explosive force, creating an overall impression of greater complexity.
Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale
Only in vintages that are particularly hot and dry—which is really saying something for southern Puglia—does Attanasio produce the locally legendary “Dolce Naturale” version of Primitivo. A parcel of the family’s oldest vines, planted in the early 1920s, is harvested and air-dried in a naturally ventilated room of the cellar for several weeks, thereby shriveling the grapes and concentrating their sugars. These raisinated berries are pressed for their meager amount of juice, and the wine finishes fermentation with around 75 grams per liter of residual sugar, then spends two years aging in stainless steel. Even in a wine this sweet and dense, the terroir roars through, with savory spice contributing high-toned elements that merge with the ample acidity and offset the sugar appealingly, offering fruit-spice interplay at its center and subtle echoes of the salinity and dusty tannins of its dry cellar-mates at its fringes.