The capital of Primitivo is the city of Manduria, its productive heart is the winery Consorzio Produttori Vini Manduria.
In Manduria, vine growing and the wine civilization are everything: the main concern for a people of wine growers since generations, rooted in the homeland. Speaking of Manduria, the thought (for those who know well the history of Italian agriculture) immediately goes to the Primitivo, a grape variety of ancient tradition, which has become one of the most representative symbols of South Italy.
The capital of the Primitivo is the town of Manduria, whereas its productive heart is the Consorzio Produttori Vini Maestri in Primitivo of Manduria, a cooperative established in 1932. The origin of this first alliance, the first cooperative structure born in Apulia, dates back to 1928, when the government allocated funds to support the cooperative movement in the South. This opportunity was taken with commitment, trust and responsibility. In Manduria a little group of 'enlightened' vine growers (among whom was also an close relation of the current President Fulvio Filo Schiavoni) formed together the 'Federazione Vini', whose main purpose was the commercialization of the Primitivo, a wine which, already at that time, was greatly appreciated.
The history of the Consorzio Produttori Vini di Manduria develops through a path of love and devotion towards the viticulture, the enology and the territory; a path leading to our days with a heritage of knowledge, handed down to the current 400 members. The history of the consortium is strongly linked to the 'epos' of the most widespread grape variety in Manduria. Yesterday, like today, the consortium guarantees the maximum quality level of the Primitivo by means of a rigorous Production’s Technical Policy of the DOC 'Primitivo Di Manduria'. A project which takes form already in the vineyards, where – thanks to the support of the winery technical staff – the members guarantee sound grapes and with the best organoleptic features.
This way of working and the careful attention to the particulars has allowed to the members to bear the title of "Maestri del Primitivo". This denomination expresses the strong cohesion among the members, who, even if belonging to different social extractions and differently aged, feel themselves united in a common project which allows the production of wines with a very good quality-price ratio, through the safeguard of an ancient tradition and the employment of the most advanced agronomic and enological techniques.
This produtive project, focussed on the viticultural tradition, on the country and on the identity of a whole community, is based on the work of a managerial staff, that has gradually built a collective entrepreneurial experience, with a strong feeling of belonging and of affirmation of its own identity. Values, humanity, people, stories of life devoted to the wine, to the earth and to the work. The managerial staff of the winery has maintained the same structure for years (the history of the consortium counts only five presidents), assuring continuity and coherence, which are difficult to find in other viticultural contexts of Italy.
The purposes of the consortium are clear: great commitment and solidarity among the members; the achieving of an enological reliability of quality; to reinforce the image of Manduria as an area of excellence of the viticulture in the Mediterranean region; and last, but not least, let the Primitivo become the flag of the Wine Renaissance of Salento and Apulia.
The Consorzio Produttori Vini di Manduria has an area of more than 900 hectares planted to vine, which is included in the region of the Production’s Technical Policy of the DOC 'Primitivo Di Manduria'. The ampelographic heritage of the winery consists mainly in the native grape variety of Primitivo: more than the half of the vine plantings are destined to the growing of such variety, which – together with the Negroamaro and the Malvasie – has represented the enology of Apulia and of Salento in the world. Among the other varieties are the Negroamaro (grown in the 25% of the vineyards) and the Black Malvasia, which complete the group of the native varieties; then, there are the allochthonous Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and also the Lambrusco. The vineyards management carried out by the single members is regulated by an internal technical policy, which establishes the main farming operations; the technical staff of the consortium supports the single producers, giving advice and assistance in the agronomic choices, in the phase preceding the harvest and in the harvest time.
The most widespread training system, particularly in the oldest vineyards, is the traditional gobelet (or bush) system or 'alberello'; whereas, in the most recent plantings, the vines are trained to the espalier system. The everage density ranges between 4000 and 5000 plants per hectare, with a yield ranging from 110 quintals per hectare of the Negroamaro to 90 quintals per hectare of the Merlot. The case of the Primitivo is different: according to its production’s technical policy, its yield shall not be more than 80 quintals per hectare.
In the vineyards of the consortium, this yield is sometimes still lower and, in some instances, even lower than the half. The Primitivo is, indeed, the only variety of the winery which undergoes the thinning processing, which increases its concentration, structure and organoleptic complexity. The whole plant development is constantly assisted and monitored, in order to establish, for each allotment, the correct agronomic activities, taking into account the pedoclimatic conditions of that region. A productive system showing a range of different peculiarities (in the soils, in the sun exposition, in the climate and in the wind), which make this viticultural context unique and inimitable.
The climatic conditions are those typical of South-Western Salento, exposed to the winds of the Ionian and of the Adriatic Seas, which regulate the ground temperature, both in summer and winter, mitigating the excesses. The climate is decidedly Mediterranean, with a heavy rainfall concentration in the end of autumn and in winter, and with dry summer months, and with heat peaks between the end of July and the beginning of August, namely close to the harvest time. Of great relevance is also the temperature range between night and day, occurring in the phases of the ripening that, in some areas, can reach also 20 °C; this phenomenon produces a positive slowing down of the bunches ripening, with a consequent better definition of the organoleptic and polyphenic profile of the grapes.
The vinification operations carried out in the cellar are addressed towards a concept of 'natural enology', according to which the specific features of each variety are emphasized, showing that it is possible to produce territory wines and of quality, in the respect of the tradition and of the history (and this is the point of strenght of these wines). Furthermore, in the last ten years, the managerial staff of the consortium has set up a number of research projects with the CNR and with the University of Bari, enriching the heritage of the traditions preserved by the members, and aiming at exalting the taste potential of the wines. In the cellar the grapes are distributed into three levels of quality: the individual lots of grapes are controlled, selected and destined to the vinification, according to a criterion of qualitative uniformity and of traceability between vineyard and bottle. The harvest calendar takes into account the different harvest times and the differences among the varieties, aiming at obtaining perfectly sound grapes. The processings of transformation, vinification and ageing are carried out by the cellar staff with the care and the rigour of the ancient Masters, employing the most advanced structures and tools of the modern enology.
The winery range includes 13 wines (6 DOC and 7 IGT). The Primitivo is of course the main variety produced: 6 different labels for a wide range of taste and olfactory sensations, obtained through the selection of the grapes of Primitivo and the changes induced in the wines by the wood ageing. Elegia is the most intense label, whereas Memoria is the most faithful to the Primitivo tradition; Lirica is characterized by the light, toasted wood notes; whereas Madrigale is the sweet version of the Primitivo, an after-meal wine, for meditation moments. These are the best known and appreciated labels in Italy and abroad. The consortium produces also two particular variants of Primitivo: Folletto, a sweet sparkling wine, made through the Charmat method, and the Cuor di Primitivo, in the version of Grappa. The Primitivo wines are the flagship of the consortium’s production. These wines, produced according to the strict Production’s Technical Policy of the DOC 'Primitivo Di Manduria', have received the appreciation of the main food and wine guides and trade magazines.
Under the wonderful vaults of a suggestive monument of industrial archaeology, a working reality lives, which has never broken its link with the past and the memory. The Museum of the Primitivo Wine civilization is a casket preserving artifacts, objects and tools which document the peasant life and the wine production in Manduria and in the neighbouring territory. The Museum is a symbol of the town of Manduria; it has become heritage of a whole community, point of reference of the Messapic culture. Tools to work in the fields, artifacts of everyday usage tell us the life of the peasant family, of the rhythms of the countryside, of an existence that, albeit hard and difficult, was still in harmony with nature.
This ethnographic exhibition of the peasant culture is completed by another huge collection of artifacts and objects, which reconstructs the ancient techniques of the enology of the first years of the XIX century. A wonderful spectacle that enchants the visitors coming to the cellar to know and taste the wines.
Since 2003 the consortium edits the magazine ALCEO Salentino, a periodical publication of wine culture and of promotion of the region, with a circulation of 25000 copies. Finally, some words must be spent on the ancient basins found under the pattering ground of the production plant. A net of underground communicating basins, which the managerial staff has recovered to place the barrique cellar and the ageing wines, as well as the services and tools for the wine tourism. In the winery it is possible to organize tasting tours in pairing with dishes and products of the food and wine culture of Salento.
Added the 23 November 2011 in Enoworld