Why we love Primitivo in our Barossa wine collection

Why we love Primitivo in our Barossa wine collection

Primitivo is a grape variety that predominantly comes from the southern parts of Italy in the Puglia region. Puglia is a hot, dry region, with Primitivo the second most planted grape variety behind Sangiovese.

Like Puglia in Italy, Australia’s Barossa has similar growing conditions, which is why Primitivo has translated so well to the Barossa Valley.
Map of Puglia - Italy

What’s in a Name

An early ripening variety, the name Primitivo translates roughly as ‘early one’.

Primitivo is widely believed to be from a Croatian coastal grape variety of Tribidrag and Crljenak Kasteljanski (pronounced Tserl-yee-ehnak Kashh-tell-ann-skee). Primitivo arrived in Puglia in the 1700s. Then early in the 19th century, these vines were introduced into the United States, albeit under the name of Zinfandel.

Confusion ensued for some time regarding the two different grape varieties until DNA testing in the 1990s proved that Zinfandel and Primitivo are different clones of the same Croatian grape variety. Their differences in the name and wine style may be attributed much to growing conditions and the overall winemaking process.

Zinfandel gained traction in the US and is known as the American national grape. It became prevalent in California, where it is most often used to produce sweet and fruity rosé wine, commonly known as White Zinfandel. It is also sometimes used in blending wine to add depth and structure.

Flagship Wine

In the 1990s, the EU undertook a vine pull that saw thousands of acres of Primitivo pulled in Italy simply because it is a tricky grape variety to manage in the vineyard. Primitivo is susceptible to drought, frosts, and floral abortion. The relatively compact bunches create vulnerability to mildew diseases and vine pests.

Traditionally, Primitivo was used in Italy as a blending variety, adding depth, colour and fruit sweetness to wines. But after the vine pull rebirth, it has become one of southern Italy’s flagship wines. It is medium-bodied, fruit-driven (think bright red jubes) with an earthy and savoury finish.

Primitivo in Australia

Australia’s history with Primitivo started only a few short decades ago, with Margaret River’s Cape Mentelle plantings in 1974.

We source our Primitivo grapes from the Keady Vineyard in Barossa’s highly respected Moppa region.

The vineyard is around 310-320m above sea level with an easterly aspect. Soil consists of brown loam over shallow red clay with shattered ironstone. The vineyard was planted in 2002 and is own rooted, and the clone is unknown. Vines are spur pruned with the mid rows cultivated to winter active fescue.

Perfect food pairing with Primitivo

Primitivo perfectly pairs best with Grilled Vegetable Pasta, Pizza Rustica, Spaghetti Bolognese, Chicken Cacciatore, and Lamb Curry. The silky tannins and medium acidity, along with the easy-going nature of Primitivo, make it food-friendly with hearty and earthy fare, including tomato based dishes.

A last note: now it’s time to taste!

Purple Hands Wines Primitivo

After Five Wine Co. Primitivo

Vibrant colour, complex aromas of cherry, cinnamon quill, tobacco, strawberry conserve and chocolate bullets. A medium to full bodied palate that has a supple almost velvety feel. Sweet fruit engulfs the palate but is balanced by textural tannin followed by noticeable acidity giving a refreshing finish. Flavours of sweet spice, licorice make this wine very morish.

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Our Award-Winning ‘Serata’ Inspired by the Super Tuscan Wine Scene

Our Award-Winning ‘Serata’ Inspired by the Super Tuscan Wine Scene

Creativity & Winemaking

If you’re an international wine enthusiast, you may already be familiar with names like Sassicaia and Tignanello, as well as the term ‘Super Tuscan’, which was first coined almost 50 years ago.

It was then that a number of Italian trailblazers sparked a modern wine revolution, when they began mixing ‘unsanctioned’ wine varieties such as Merlot into their blends, leaving them outside the Italian DOC/DOCG regulations. And yet, these blends were considered to be high quality and commanded high prices.

In essence, these Italian wines came as a result of the frustration that winemakers in Tuscany had towards the bureaucracy who were slow to change the wine laws of Italy during the 1970’s.

In 1992, the legal system eventually yielded with the creation of the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) classification of Toscana, a new designation that gave winemakers the ability to be more creative. Today, Tuscany has five sub-categories of IGT wines.

What Does a Super Tuscan Taste Like?

What makes a ‘Super Tuscan’ wine different from other Tuscan wines, such as Chianti, is the use of wine grapes that are not indigenous to Italy. Particularly Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah (Shiraz).

Although a large number of wines claim to be ‘The First Super Tuscan’, most would agree that this credit belongs to Sassicaia, the brainchild of marchese – Mario Incisa della Rocchetta.

He first planted Cabernet Sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri back in 1944, and for many years it was the marchese’s personal wine, until the 1968 vintage was released commercially in 1971.

Because Super Tuscan wines are blends of indigenous and non-indigenous grape varieties, there is no specific flavour profile or structure.

You can find everything from fruity and racy Sangiovese based wines to deep, opulent Syrah-based wines. What ties them together is the use of the Toscana IGT classification and this notation will always be on the label.

Introducing our own unique blend of Italian and traditional Barossa varieties : ‘After Five Wine Co. – Serata’
In 2011, we decided to plant two southern Italian grape varieties – Montepulciano and Aglianico – in our southern Barossa vineyard.

Part of the reasoning was their ability to thrive in warm dry climates, but there was also the idea to bring to life a unique blend of Shiraz, Montepulciano and Aglianico.

Fast forward to today and we have successfully produced our very own blend with elegance, texture and intrigue. The single vineyard blend – ‘After Five Wine Co. Serata’.

Serata is not a grape variety but rather an Italian word that loosely translates to “have a pleasant evening get together with friends”.

We chose this name reflect its Italian roots, but also as a play on words. Our After Five Co. range is prefect for evening drinking and we’ve blended the Italian and Shiraz varieties – the friends.

Serata has Already Made an Impression

Since the first release of our After Five Wine Co. Serata in 2016, this wine has been well received and been awarded strong ratings and gold medals.

We were also honoured that this single vineyard blend was awarded a prestigious trophy at the 2019 Barossa Wine Show, with our ‘2018 After Five Wine Co. Serata’ being selected from 829 entries to go into the Barossa Cellar.

Our current vintage also received a gold medal at the Barossa Wine Show and was rated highly with James Halliday:

2017 After Five Wine Co. Serata

“Shiraz, Aglianico and Montepulciano, made and matured separately for 17 months prior to blending. All French oak, mostly older. The juicy plumminess of shiraz is evident, but the savoury red cherry character likely coming from its partners. More pertinent is that the blend has worked well, providing a seamless mouthfeel with length and depth of flavour.”

James Halliday Wine Companion - 95 points

Serata tasting notes: intriguing, complex and bold

We think the combination of the Australian and Italian varieties provides a striking and stylish wine.

The Montepulciano and Aglianico deliver complexity, structure and length, making a perfect foil when blended with Shiraz.

Serata has aromas of cherry, rose, liquorice and strawberry. You’ll be intrigued by the palate which shows the depth and body of the Shiraz, along with cherry flavours from the Montepulciano, and the Aglianico provides rose hints and fine long tannin and welcome natural acidity.

Perfect food pairing with After Five Wine Co. Serata

Hearty meats like roasted pork, spicy sausages or grilled steak are all excellent pairings for this complex dry wine.

It can also be served alongside filling seafood dishes like a meaty grilled swordfish steak, or alongside starters such as bold aged cheddar or a rich bruschetta with olive oil and rosemary.

For those who love the simple things in life, Serata is perfect match with meat lover’s pizza.

A last note: now it’s time to taste!

After Five Wine Co. Serata Bottle ImageWe are lovers of blends that bring to life something that is both unique and different from any of the single varietals that go into the wine.

It is our hope that you continue to enjoy your wine journey and experiment with this amazing blend. It is little bit different, but we are confident you will be rewarded for your intrigue.

If you’ve already tried our Serata, we’d love to hear from you!

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Why we love Primitivo in our Barossa wine collection

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Primitivo is a grape variety that predominantly comes from the southern parts of Italy in the Puglia region. Puglia is a hot, dry region, with Primitivo the second most planted grape variety behind Sangiovese. Like Puglia in Italy, Australia’s Barossa has similar...

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Discover Aglianico: an ancient grape thriving in the Barossa

Discover Aglianico: an ancient grape thriving in the Barossa

Have you experienced our award-winning Aglianico?

Whether you’re keen to expand your wine repertoire with a new and exotic varietal, or you’ve stumbled across a bottle of Aglianico and are downright curious, here is a handy guide about this stunning food wine and why you need to add it to your 2019 tasting list!

While Aglianico had ancient beginnings in Greece and then Italy more than 1,000 years ago, it is a variety that thrives in dry climates with generous amounts of sunshine.

This is exactly why it’s found its way to Purple Hands Wines in the beautiful Southern Barossa Valley in South Australia, and has become an award-winning member of our premium, boutique range.

Known as one of Italy’s best kept secrets, we planted the rustic, full-bodied variety in our Southern Barossa vineyard in 2011 amidst great anticipation, and our first vintage was bottled in 2015.

The origins of Aglianico

Pronounced Ah-Lee-An-Iko, the Aglianico varietal originated in Greece but today over 98% of the world’s plantings are noe in southern Italy, namely Basilicata and Campania. In actual fact, Aglianico has been grown in Campania for thousands of years and even graced tables during the Roman empire.

The grape was called Ellenico (the Italian word for ‘Greek’) until the 15th century, when it acquired its current name of Aglianico.

It is also sometimes referred to as the “Barolo of the South”, meaning it is Southern Italy’s premium grape variety.

Before phylloxera, Aglianico was one of the most widely planted varieties throughout the South of Italy. After phylloxera, the grape survived in small quantities in more or less isolated areas, principally around Rionero del Vulture in Basilicata, and also around Avellino, Benevento, Caserta and Salerno in Campania.

As we mentioned earlier, it is a grape that thrives in dry, sunny climates, which is exactly why other areas to plant Aglianico in more recent times have included California and Texas, as well as the Barossa Valley and other Australia wine regions, where just 1% of the world’s plantings exist.

Aglianico tasting notes: complex, full-bodied and intense

Wines produced from Aglianico tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins (derived from their thick skins) and high acidity, endowing them with good aging potential.

This fits beautifully with our mission here at Purple Hands Wines – to make balanced wines that can be consumed young, but also become interesting and enjoyable as they age.

After Five Wine Co.’s Aglianico is characterised by a pretty floral perfume of rose petals and Turkish delight, with lovely raspberry, blackcurrant and earthy style flavours with a “lick of liquorice” on the back end of the palate. 

As it ages, the fruit becomes more pronounced and the tannins more balanced with the rest of the wine. The trademark colouring of the wine is a deep garnet which lightens over time.

Even when grown in warmer climates, Aglianico is capable of retaining high levels of acidity, which adds to the length and persistence of flavour on the palate.

The grape has a tendency to ripen late, with harvests as late as the end of April or even early May in our Barossa Valley vineyards. If the grape is picked too early, or with excessive yields, the grape can be aggressively tannic and have ‘green’ flavours so it is important to fully ripen the grapes.

Aglianico vines generally produce a high yield of bunches, so each year we have to conduct bunch thinning where we cut and drop bunches to ensure vine balance this allowing optimal ripeness for the remaining bunches.

Perfect food pairing with Aglianico

Because of the high acidity and soft silky tannins, Aglianico begs for rich meats with high fat content to absorb the astringency. Think thick cuts of steak or luscious lamb dishes. Or, in keeping with its Italian heritage, a rich Lasagne Bolognese is just perfect!

If you’re a vegetarian, hone in on flavours such as black bean sauce, soy sauce, tempeh or dishes that welcome roasted mushrooms or lentils.

You can also enjoy it with a carefully selected cheese platter – it welcomes pairing with Pecorino, Asiago, Grana Padano, Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Provolone.

After Five Wine Co AglianicoA last note: now it’s time to taste!

For those intrigued by alternate varieties, and pursue wines that are quite different, yet excite your nose and liven your palate, Aglianico is the variety you should try.

“Along with Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, [Aglianico] is generally believed to be on of Italy’s three best wine grapes, but in my opinion it is far more…” – Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy

This quote sums up exactly why we were excited to bring Aglianico to the Barossa Valley and introduce more Australian wine lovers to this premium Italian variety.

It is also why we encourage you to sample our award-winning Barossa Valley Aglianico and enjoy a modern Australian take on this ancient drop. 

Have you tried Aglianico? We’d love to know your thoughts on this premium and striking red.

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You may also be interested in…

Why we love Primitivo in our Barossa wine collection

Why we love Primitivo in our Barossa wine collection

Primitivo is a grape variety that predominantly comes from the southern parts of Italy in the Puglia region. Puglia is a hot, dry region, with Primitivo the second most planted grape variety behind Sangiovese. Like Puglia in Italy, Australia’s Barossa has similar...

read more

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Join our wine club to receive news, offers and special event invitations. It’s free to join.

5 Star Red Rating Continues in the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion

5 Star Red Rating Continues in the 2019 Halliday Wine Companion

We are really excited to retain our red 5 star rating in the 2019 James Halliday Wine Companion.

Red 5 star status is awarded to wineries who regularly produce wines of exemplary quality and typicity and who have 2 or more wines rated at 95 points or above and have had a 5 star rating for the previous 2 years.

It is awarded to only 8.2% of the wineries listed in the book. The After Five Wine Co. range hit the book for the first time and received rave reviews, with two rated at 96 pts and one at 95 pts with the observation that – “These ‘After Five’ wines have arrived on the marketplace in emphatic fashion.”  

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First ever release of Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon

First ever release of Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon

Purple Hands Wines is proud to release the first ever vintage of our Planta Circa Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Planta Circa wine is made from ancestor vines that were planted around 1880 – 1890 (hence the Planta Circa “planted some time around….”) just outside Lyndoch in the southern Barossa (read the full story on how we discovered this Ancestor Vines here).

There are only 468 vines and we get just two barrels of wine from these *ancient vines.

These vines are some of the oldest Cabernet vines in Australia and also the world, because Phylloxera affected the Cabernet vines in France and they were replanted after Australia planted it’s early Cabernet. 

We are very lucky and proud to be the custodians of these vines and producing such an exclusive wine that is a little piece of history of the Barossa. We have already received a review from Wine Showcase magazine with a 96 pt rating. 

Be quick to get a piece of Barossa history!

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