2009 VIVI Primitivo

Affordable Italian Crowd Pleaser

In case you weren’t aware, there is a connection—actually, an absolute genetic sameness—between zinfandel and the Italian wine grape primitivo. They are both descendant clones of a Croatian grape, actually, one you will never be able to pronounce (give it a go: Crljenak).

I’m a pretty huge zin fan, some of my favorite wines are zinfandels or zin-based blends. So I was pretty excited to try the Italian equivalent. How could I go wrong? The bold, smoky, spicy flavors of my beloved zin, married with the traditions of Italian winemaking? Sounds positively delightful.

But who is VIVI? I’m not entirely sure, and their website does very little to tell me. Something about them screams “high production, not artisan” to me, but this may indeed turn out to be an unfair, ultimately untrue statement. What I do know is they make two wines: this VIVI Primitivo, and the VIVI Falanghina. So regardless of how big or small they are, props for bringing some of the lesser-known Italian varieties to the States.

Primitivo’s home and native land is the “heel” of Italy’s topographical “boot,” Puglia, and it’s from here that the VIVI Primitivo hails.

To the wine, then. The 2009 VIVI Primitivo is burgundy red at its core, with edges than both lighten and brown slightly to an auburn red. The nose shows off aromas that any zinfandel fan will feel right at home with: blackberry, tobacco, clove, and cinnamon. A lot of spice, a little dark fruit, and hints of herby and smoky elements.

The wine is light bodied and remarkably refreshing for something so bold. The finish is long. Quite long, though I’m not sure what I should reference in order to truly drive home the point that the finish on this wine is long. The VIVI Primitivo is spicy and robust, with notes of clove and dark spices mingling nicely with complementary aromas of light black and red fruits on the palate.

Yummy. And quite food-friendly. I liked this wine, a lot, actually. And it’s a pretty decent value, to be had for $10-$20. Easily recommended.

Verdict: 89/100
Price Point: $11

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