Wine Wednesday: Fanova Riserva Primitivo Gioia Del Colle DOC

This Wine Wednesday is dedicated to a wine I hav tasted a number of times. It is alled Fanova from the Terre Carsiche winery in Puglia. I first tasted the wine in December 2021 when the Puglia in rose association asked me to lead a tasting of wines from Puglia.

The wines from Puglia that really stood out that day were the wonderful rosatos of many different shades and depth as well as the Primitivo Gioia Del Colle DOC. It is so particular and exciting that I was actually able to pick it up our of a lineup during a recent blind tasting evening. It was a little unfair because the Mother-Daughter team from Puglia in Rosé were at the dinner but still I remembered the wine perfectly and nailed it which always makes me happy since it isn’t a common occurrence when tasting blind for me.

About the grape:

Primitivo is a grape variety that you can find in the Italian region of Apulia or Puglia as it is called in Italian. Primitivo is related to the Croatian grape Tribidrag and California’s Zinfandel. Tribidrag was held in high regard throughout the history of Croatia, praised by poets in the 15th century and widely exported to France and Italy. It has been in Italy for many centuries, certainly since the 1700s. It garnered its name because it is ripens earlier than many of its Apulian counterparts.  

Primitivo has not always been the first grape I was attracted to or wanted to taste. I always felt it was heavy and over the top. I was wrong. When I tried my first Primitivo di Gioia del Colle some years back, I was blown away. What makes them attractive to me is their elegance and acidity on top of the other aspects one expects in a Primitivo – deep important dark fruit, depending on how its aged – cedar, oak, even animal skin aromas. Yet with the wines from Gioia del Colle, I found other sensations I wasn’t expecting.

Perhaps it is the terroir, a high plane in what is known as the Murge, at around 400-500 meters above sea-level. Maybe it’s the soils that have both skeletal materials, are calcarious in nature, and have limestone as well as red soils with iron residues. The area was first inhabited in 3000 BC and apparently there were rivers running beneath the high plain so loads of fruit trees, oak, and olives once grew here. Maybe it’s the climate, Mediterranean of course but because of their elevation, they do get a bit of breeze which can be hard to find in Puglia. Likely it’s the mix of all these factors as it always is, and the hand of careful producers that make these wines so special.

About the Wine:

This particular wine though. can only be found in the Gioia del Colle DOC area. The vines grow at 300/350 meters above sea level. Soils are Karstic and have a lot of red earth. Fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled
temperature for 15 days. This deeply ruby red wine is both balance and complex with a beautiful ruby red color, a rich and floral bouquet, complemented by great acidity and minerality on the palate in this full bodied wine. Aromas and flavors of plum, jcherry jam, sweet spice, pepper, and underbrush with fine tannins and a judicious use of oak make this wine a keeper. Even though it has 16% alcohol, it did not overwhelm the palate. I found the wine very elegant. In terms of pairing, it would be perfect with roast beef or aged cheese.

About the label:

Apparently in the town where this wine was created, since 1691, you can see farmers making a bonfire which in italian is called a “Falo.” Farmers would make these bonfires in the streets of the town of Castellana Grotte. where Terre Carsiche is located. These “falo” were done at a time of celebration and recognition of the gifts nature bestowed that year.

About the winery:

A family concern that started in 1939, the winery located near the city of Bari in the town of Castellana Grotte, has chosen to focus on native grapes from Puglia in their vineyards. Thanks to careful selection that starts in the vineyard, they look to make wines that express their exciting terroir in the Valle d’Itria and the Murge.

I have an upciming trip to the area so I am super excited to see it and to taste many great wines from the region. While I have been to Puglia a number of times, I focused mainly on the Salento and just a bit in the area around Bari so I am looking forward to seeing new parts of this beautiful region.

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