Last night I mentioned Zinfandel and the varying flavors and alcohol levels. Tonight, we opened up a Primitivo from Bedarra Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley….
Why do I bring this up? Because Zinfandel and Primitivo are genetically the same. There aren’t many local wineries that call this grape Primitivo, but it certainly caught my eye. You may recall that I visited Bedarra last summer. It’s a beautiful piece of property in one of my favorite growing regions in Sonoma County.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about Primitivo (or Zinfandel). I’ve only worked for one place that has made one and it’s only about 500 cases of the total production. A very small amount. The latest research suggests that the grape originated in Croatia. It migrated to the U.S. in the mid-1800’s. Some of the oldest vineyards in Sonoma are Zinfandel vineyards. I know of at least two vineyards that have vines older than 100 years. Wow, that’s old. When the vines reach that age, they produce very little fruit. But that small amount of fruit is very concentrated and generally produces wines of extreme character.
It’s one of those wines that I love for many reasons. The food possibilities are nearly endless, there are varying characteristics based on how old the vines are, where they are planted (hillside vs. valley floor or benchland) and many other factors.
The one we had tonight was a little muted at first (likely because of its youth), but then really opened up after a few minutes in the glass. Dark fruits, black raspberries and baking spices were apparent throughout the wine. The texture was velvety and the alcohol in perfect balance. I do have a second bottle of this and I’m thinking I’ll put it away for at least another year to see how it will develop over time.
I bring the alcohol up because it’s one thing that can make or break this type of wine. It takes a real expert to pick this grape at full ripeness without going overboard with the sugar level. The sugar level is, of course, directly related to the alcohol level in the finished wine and with Primitivo and Zinfandel it can be quite tricky. It’s even been known to increase its sugar level after being picked.
The Bedarra Primitivo has an alcohol level of 14.9%. As mentioned last night, I’ve seen anywhere from 14-17% alcohol with these wines. This particular one I could sit and just an enjoy a glass of. It doesn’t need food. That’s not to say that food wouldn’t enhance your experience, it’s just I could go either way with this offering.
I look forward to future vintages of this wine from Bedarra. I think only good things will come as the vines mature.