The grapes to produce the Primitivo Appassito Puglia IGT A Mano were dried for five weeks. On arrival at the cellars, the grapes were pressed, destemmed and cooled to 18°C and the must 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 being bottled under Stelvin.
The grapes for this wine come from a selection of Mark’s four favourite 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 climate is classically Mediterranean, as Puglia is on a peninsula between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. The Primitivo vines are quite old; most are the original post-phylloxera plantings 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.
The continued success of A Mano is at least partly attributable to the knowledge that Mark and Elvezia have gleaned from over 18 vintages in the region. Not only are they getting access to Salento’s best grapes, but their growers have also come to realise that if they want the higher price paid by A Mano, they need to provide even better grapes than in previous years. Mark Shannon and his partner Elvezia Sbalchiero have succeeded in making Primitivo one of Italy’s most talked about grape varieties. By paying high prices for the best grapes (sourced from 70 to 100-year-old vines) and focussing solely on quality and a modern style, they have revolutionised the style and calibre of Primitivo.