Sunday, October 5, 2008
Frustrating Crljenak Kaštelanski
Primitivo, the descendant of Crljenak Kaštelanski along with Zinfandel, shares the same maddening nature. Notice the green shot berries (hens and chicks), a couple poorly colored berries, a few perfectly ripe berries, raisins (which we hate), and maybe even a touch of black rot. This is what Zinfandel sometimes looks like, and what some of our Primitivo always looks like. Alegedly introduced into Apulia in the 1700's, Primitivo is brother or sister to Zinfandel, and if you Zinfandel aficionados have any question, they look the same (though we believe our Primitivo has a different structure). I removed a lot of shoulders on clusters this summer, and now realize that trimming the wings seems to have balanced out the uneven growth, just like those high-priced, classy guys in Sonoma County do. Part of the charm is that the variable ripeness (supposedly) gives some depth to the wine, with tart acid underripe grapes alongside overripe jam bombs. This is a varietal that you will lose sleep over, unlike Dolcetto and Barbera, but somehow it ends up working like magic in the end. The skins are very thin this year, so structure is questionable, and flavors seem thin - floral and nice, but thin. Carlyle Zinfandel this will not be. Our Primitivo is actually split amongst three blocks though, all with different growth patterns, and right now they are all about a week apart. I am very worried, but the magic in the fermentor can still come together, especially with a long maceration. All I know for sure is that the birds prefer it to all other grapes in our vineyard. They have ruined probably half a ton. We'll take it as a complement.
Posted by Pietro Buttitta at 7:49 PM