Known as Oenotria to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, this 'Land of Vines' made little progress between then and the latter stages of the 20th century. Neither the will nor the investment were there to achieve anything other than mediocre wines, but this began to change in the 1980s and Southern Italy's wealth of indigenous grapes began to come to the fore.
Much the same as my love affair with wines from the south of France, I find this an incredibly interesting place to source wines that are different and also very reasonably priced. As with the Vin de Pays, there is still a lot of very average stuff being produced but it’s worth wading through to find some absolute gems!
One of Italy’s many hundreds of grape varieties, Primitivo would have remained relatively obscure had it not been for California and Zinfandel, a more famous and identical grape. Can be an awkward variety to cultivate as the grapes have thin skins and are tightly clustered, leaving them vulnerable to uneven ripening and botrytis.