Mark Shannon and Elvezia Sbalchiero, the duo behind A Mano, have worked in the wine business for most of their lives. Elvezia is a northern Italian wine marketing expert and Mark is a Californian winemaker. They fell in love with Puglia and, when they decided to start their own label, made it their home. By producing high quality wines, Mark and Elvezia have succeeded in making Primitivo one of Italy's most talked about grape varieties. They pay high prices for the best grapes from 70-100 year old vines and focus solely on quality and a modern style. After over 15 vintages, they are now getting access to some of Salento's best grapes.
The grapes for this wine come from vineyards in the heart of the Primitivo growing region, located in the low hills east of Taranto in Puglia. The region is an old sea bed, full of fossils of clams, oysters and urchins. The altitude is approximately 30-60 metres above sea level and annual rainfall is 35 centimetres. The climate is classically Mediterranean as Puglia is a peninsula between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. The Primitivo vines are quite old; most are the original plantings after phylloxera and range from 70 to 100 years old. As with most vineyards planted at that time they are small bush vines called 'alberello' which are non-irrigated and low yielding. The average Primitivo vineyard is quite small, less than half a hectare and the best sites have a crumbly, dark reddish brown soil that resembles instant coffee.
Puglia experienced abundant winter rain and cooler temperatures, which made 2016 a challenging vintage for winegrowers. Despite these climatic difficulties, hard work in the vineyards was rewarded with high-quality grapes, albeit with lower than normal yields. Summer was benevolent, with clear skies and warming sunshine, and temperatures were never too hot. The resulting wines promise to be fresh and fragrant.
On arrival at the cellars, the grapes were pressed and destemmed. The must was cooled to 18°C and was allowed to ferment at its own pace. After racking in mid-November, the wine remained in an underground cement tank, where the temperature did not exceed 10°C, until bottling.
The wine is deeply coloured in the glass and exuberant on the nose, with perfumes of ripe red fruit, especially raspberries, and a spicy note. On the palate, it is youthful and full-bodied, with a great concentration of ripe, rounded fruit characters including blackberry and blueberry. This is a very elegant, fresh and complex Primitivo.