Winemaker Pasquale Petrera strongly believes in the aging potential of his Primitivos. He’s carried out vertical tastings of 10 vintages of his own “Fatalone Riserva” showing off the quality of this varietal from the Gioia del Colle DOC in Apulia. Pasquale is the fifth generation of his family to run this small winery on a rocky hilltop 365 meters above sea level and located 45 kilometers from both the Adriatic Sea to the east and the Ionian Sea to the south.
The winery was a founding member of the Consorzio di Tutela del Vino Gioia Del Colle DOC, and they were the first winery, in 1987, to bottle Gioia del Colle DOC using Primitivo as a monovarietal. Their limited production wines are also made with another indigenous grape, Greco.
Organic practices have always been important to the family, according to Pasquale, who says the winery has been practicing sustainability and respect for nature for five generations. “Getting biologically certified was only a way to put a seal on our work.” The company received certification in 2000.
The practices in the vineyards have now moved to focus more on sustainability in the winery as well. Music therapy is used to help with the aging of their barrels. “We use the energy from sound waves to help push air, delicately and rhythmically, onto the surface of the barrels. In this way, the natural process of micro-oxygenation is even more effective,” says Pasquale.
“Our wines sell very well internationally, in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. 85% of our wine is exported. Not everyone understands our wines and that is okay. What we want is for our wines to express our land, the grape varieties, our particular practices and our personality,” he said. ‘In one word, an expression of our roots.”
Apulia is known for its long, dry season and Pasquale says their main problem is not parasites or insects, but lack of water. In the vineyards they only use the Bordelaise mix of copper and sulfur. “Our production process is 100% sustainable: without the use of irrigation and with zero carbon emissions. The winery is powered only by solar energy.”
What isn’t a problem is that the grapes they use all grow right around the winery and there is no need to transport them anywhere, saving on emissions and time. They also put all of the compost from the winery such as cuttings, clippings, and the like back into the property.
In terms of climate change, Pasquale said that they are seeing more drought conditions, earlier harvests and a reduction in yields because some of the grapes are drying on the vine on account of the heat. This inevitably makes the wines fruitier.
Like many winemakers, Pasquale hopes that Italy will focus on preserving its land and the specialness of individual terroirs, protecting their 3000 indigenous varietals and traditions of the land that constitute an inestimable cultural, environmental and societal patrimony.
Priimitivo Riserva Fatalone ages for two years, one of which must be in oak, Slavonia usually. The soil is calcareous with a planting density of 3000-3500 vines per hectare. Full bodied and velvety with red fruits and oak notes on nose and palate, this wine can age for 10 years but is balanced when released.
Primitivo Fatalone is their base wine with many of the same characteristics as the riserva, full-bodied, red fruit and a velvety mouth-feel. They use open vat fermentation with manual stirring, frequent pumping over and without added yeast.
Greco Bianco Spinomarino is made from 100% Greco grapes and is a very floral wine with hints of white flowers and grapes.
Primitivo “Teres” Fatalone is also made using the Primitivo grape. This wine though is almost made like a white wine, meaning it spends little time on the skins.