The grapes to produce the Primitivo Puglia IGT A Mano were pressed and destemmed, then allowed to ferment for 36 hours without intervention, then the free run juice was drawn off and the must was cooled to 12°C. The cool must was then reintroduced to the warm cap and thoroughly mixed to gently extract colour. After racking in mid-November, the wine remained in an underground cement tank, where the temperature did not exceed 12°C, until bottling.
The grapes for this wine come from winemaker Mark’s favourite vineyard on the coast of the Ionian Sea. The region is an old sea bed, full of fossils of clams, oysters and urchins. The altitude is approximately 20 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.
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.