It's a very strong wine (the DOC variety must have at least 14% alcohol but there is also a 16% and 18% variety). It can have a long aging. Drink it in small doses at the end of a meal with roasted meat.
Do you know that the California wine Zinfandel comes from the same kind of grape? Unfortunately now it is difficult to find a good bottle of primitivo and I have no tips for you. (This sentence was written in 1996. The situation is now changed a lot thanks to Accademia dei Racemi producers like Felline, Sinfarosa, etc.They are producing great wines based on Primitivo.)
By now (2004) Primitivo has done a fantastic step forward becoming the best red wine in Apulia(only the varietes Castel del Monte and Salice can compete with it) and starting to appear also at the top of the lists of italian wines.
Other interesting bottles are obtained by producers doing experiments in mixing primitivo grapes with small quantities of other grapes.
My father,around 20 years ago, still grew Primitivo grapes,
and the best variety came from a lot on a hill around Lizzano.
We got every year a small crop of very sweet black grape that
my father transformed in wine for the family needs. Sometime
this wine would arrive at 20% alcohol and since not all sugar
would fermentate, the wine was sweet.
Sometime he would produce a "lacrima" version by fermentating the must without the grape.The result was very similar to Vermouth.
When I started writing this page (1996) I had no idea that Primitivo fame should grow so much in so little time.I knew ,having tasted some very old Primitivo bottles (more than 20 years) that, although it wasn't perfect, it could in the right hands become a great wine as a Barolo and ,why not, a Burgundy. Perhaps ,right now, we have somewhere in a cellar , these bottles maturing beautifully to became a sensation in the next years. Of course, this needs a lot of time, and the new renaissance of Primitivo has started only a few years ago. All these thoughts came to my mind when someone asked to me :
I am preparing a wine-tasting for friends and would like to compare the very best California zinfandel with the very best primitivo. It is easy to determine what is the best zinfandel -- it is a 1994 Turley -- but I am not certain what is the best primitivo. Would you care to make a recommendation?I repeat the same question to some expert that reads this page!
By the way, I still own two of the vineyards where my father produced this extraordinary wine. Sorry, there are no more vines there since many years but if you are interested in buying them, send me a message.
Other materials taken mostly from laVINIum.com to know more about this wonderful wine:
Map of Apulia DOC wines
Composition of Apulia wines
list of Apulia wine bottles