The 2012 Grifone Primitivo is a $3.99 Trader Joe’s import exclusive, sourced from old vine vineyards in Puglia (the heel of boot) of Italy. Primitivo from Puglia and Zinfandel from California are the exact same grape, just different names and different soil and growing conditions, so they won’t taste exactly the same. The Primitivo/Zinfandel grape dates back to the ancient Greeks. This Primitivo is made in a style to appeal to Americans, the bottle even says, “From old vine Zinfandel”. In California, it seems every Zinfandel on the shelves is produced from Old Vines and they probably are. There is no legal definition for how old the vines must be to call them Old Vines, but in California many Zinfandel vineyards were spared during Prohibition because the Catholic Church designated them for the production of Communion wine, which was an exempt commodity. Also, all the Zinfandel vines that were planted during the White Zinfandel craze are getting to be 40 to 50 years old, so there are plenty of Zin vines with a bit of age on them. This Primitivo was aged in stainless steel tanks, no oak barrels were used, in California, Zinfandel usually sees at least of few months of oak aging. The alcohol content is 13%.
The color is cherry red with black highlights. The nose is dark berries with a little chocolate powder and spearmint chewing gum, This is a soft, smooth, medium bodied wine with a slight rough edge on the mid palate. It tastes of black cherry, a little tart cranberry and a touch of cola. The mid plate offers are a dusty slap form the tannins and a final dash of sweet strawberry. The acidity is balanced and the finish is a little watery and fades a bit too soon.
The 2012 Grifone Primitivo, isn’t a a stealth 4 buck Zinfandel, but it is a decent $3.99 Primativo. More balanced and subdued than the typical inexpensive Zinfandel, it drinks nicely, it has good flavor and while not a complicated wine it isn’t simple, either. It is hard to complain about a 4 dollar Italian wine that is smooth and tasty.
We also review the 2010 Grifone , we liked that vintage it had some spice which gave it a more of California Zinfandel edge.