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Brian K Miller

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2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Brian K Miller » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:10 pm

A lovely wine-a new grape for Clos Du Val is my understanding. Plenty of expected briary pepper and berry fruit, but with that core of savory, tangy acidity I find characteristic of Clos Du Val. I love how they maintain their house style across vintages and varietals! Will go quite well with a barbecue.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Jenise » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:15 pm

I would buy that! Is it an estate vineyard do you know? I'm not sure I've seen primitivo from a US producer before, though I may have read of some planting a in Lodi.
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Oliver McCrum

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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Oliver McCrum » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:50 pm

Primitivo is Zinfandel. Why are they labelling it as Primitivo, though?
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Lou Kessler » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:20 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Primitivo is Zinfandel. Why are they labelling it as Primitivo, though?

I was going to write the same thing. Don't understand the labeling unless they think for some reason it will sell better under that name. Odd :?:
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Brian Gilp » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:43 pm

Hendry has been selling a Primitivo for years. The nurseries that I talk to distinguish between the primitivo clones and the Zinfandel clones and I understand from what I have read that the primitivo clusters are not as tight and may have better rot resistance. I would like to get about 5 vines to see how they would do on the east coast as it may be viable here where zin is not.

I think I read before that the California label laws allow the primitivo clones to be labeled either zin or primitivo but the zin clones can only be labeled as zin. Most choose to label it as zin as primitivo does not sell as well.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Oliver McCrum » Wed Nov 14, 2012 10:45 pm

Jancis's new book states absolutely that the two varieties are identical. The rest is marketing, I suppose. I thought they used to grow a good, elegant Zinfandel, years ago?
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Brian K Miller » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:03 pm

Not sure, Oliver, about the Zinfandel.

Primitivo is a marketing term. I'm cool with that. :mrgreen:

I actually love the Napa Valley "zins" that I have tried. They tend toward the lighter, "claret" style.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Brian K Miller » Thu Nov 15, 2012 1:04 pm

Jenise wrote:I would buy that! Is it an estate vineyard do you know? I'm not sure I've seen primitivo from a US producer before, though I may have read of some planting a in Lodi.



Not sure. It is labeled Napa Valley, so....

I will check and find out.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Mark Lipton » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:56 pm

Oliver McCrum wrote:Jancis's new book states absolutely that the two varieties are identical. The rest is marketing, I suppose. I thought they used to grow a good, elegant Zinfandel, years ago?


I'm not so sure of that, Oliver. I recall a conversation with one Napa grower who had both Primitivo and Zin planted and was quite clear on the differences that he saw. There can be different clones that, though genetically "identical" (a probabilistic assignment that has an associated confidence level, usually 90-99%), have different characteristics such as berry size, etc. The classic example would be Syrah and Serine in the N Rhone.

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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Carl Eppig » Thu Nov 15, 2012 6:35 pm

To the best of my knowledge there are Primitivo clones imported from Italy being grown in California that can be distinguished from Zin by taste if not from genes. I think we all know how important clone selection is for certain other grapes, and if it so the clones must produce wines that taste differenty.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Oliver McCrum » Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:17 pm

Mark Lipton wrote:
Oliver McCrum wrote:Jancis's new book states absolutely that the two varieties are identical. The rest is marketing, I suppose. I thought they used to grow a good, elegant Zinfandel, years ago?


I'm not so sure of that, Oliver. I recall a conversation with one Napa grower who had both Primitivo and Zin planted and was quite clear on the differences that he saw. There can be different clones that, though genetically "identical" (a probabilistic assignment that has an associated confidence level, usually 90-99%), have different characteristics such as berry size, etc. The classic example would be Syrah and Serine in the N Rhone.

Mark Lipton


Clonal differences can be huge, obviously, but different clones of a given variety are still the same variety. I have no claim to expertise here, I'm reporting what Jancis says in her new tome. (Maybe I should have said 'the same,' rather than 'identical.')
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Marco Raimondi

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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Marco Raimondi » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:20 am

Don't know anything about the genetics, but Primitivo from Puglia is what Italians call "spargolo" (the berries in the bunch are loose and well-separated one from the other; i.e. less rot in the vineyard and good for drying: amarone style). Also, Primitvo grapes ripen fairly evenly within the bunch, and also from vine to vine. California Zinfandel (either because of the climate or other variations beyond my knowledge) often has bigger, more tightly clustered berries, pronounced, uneven ripening within bunches, and is more susceptible to rot.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Steve Edmunds » Fri Nov 16, 2012 3:34 am

What Marco said is true; the looser clusters, more even ripening, and, every bit as important, the lack of the tendency to raisin that Zin is so famous for, all make the Primitivo clones distinctive. Yet, genetically, it's true; they're the same critter.
George Hendry has Zin and Primitivo planted side by side, and I tasted with him, six years ago, the two varieties, vinified the same way. The Primitivo, to me, was a better wine. The interesting issue that came up was, as George put it: "It doesn't taste like Zinfandel." My interpretation was that the lack of raisining, and the evenness of ripening made the wine completely different.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Oliver McCrum » Fri Nov 16, 2012 2:41 pm

The only reason we are having this discussion is that this variety can be labelled either way; I believe someone is importing Primitivo from Puglia labelled Zinfandel.

How many other varieties would show as much difference between different clones or selections grown in the same place, I wonder?
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Steve Edmunds » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:35 pm

Oliver; though I'm not sure how reliable it was, George Hendry told me that Primitivo may not be labelled as Zinfandel, and vice versa.
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Re: 2010 Clos Du Val Primitivo

by Oliver McCrum » Fri Nov 16, 2012 10:40 pm

I misled you; Jancis reports that it used to be legal, then in '85 the BATF prohibited it due to 'lack of evidence of synonymy,' then the Europeans legalised it, currently 'no agreement has been reached.'

I do recall that some CA producers were up in arms about it, which I find amusing given the way the US wine industry has historically treated European historic names, such as Champagne. Now the shoe's on the other foot.
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