The Murgia (or Murge) is a large, rectangular-shaped karst plateau on the mountains that run from the Lucanian Apennines inland to Bari towards the Salento peninsula, in the “heel” of the boot of Italy. The name stems from the Latin word murex, which means “sharp stone”. The closest DOC is Primitivio di Manduria, which is based solely on the Primitivo grape, and DNA fingerprinting suggests that it is genetically equivalent to Zinfandel, and historically, the Croation grape Crljenak Kaštelanski.

Years ago, wines from Manduria were sold as wine for dilution all over Italy and abroad; the Manduria wine even had its devotees who drank it as a dessert wine after meals, but it wasn’t the easy drinking, fruity style we appreciate today, rather it was strong and heavy. Granted DOC status in 1974, it has since refined its winemaking techniques and wines of fine to excellent quality have been produced.

Primitivo yields a wine that has a minimum alcohol content of 14% and heady aroma, and because of these characteristics it is also known by the local dialectical name Mirr Test, meaning “hard wine”, referring to the bountiful body of the wine. Soft and gentle this ain’t. Generally speaking, when young it is dark red bordering on purple in color and medium-low in tannins, with dark spicy fruit, turning to deep orange with age and acquiring a full bouquet and soft, velvety, full body. For more information, check out our fantastic previous article on Puglia here.