The Grifone Primitivo 2020 is a $4.99 Trader Joe’s import exclusive sourced from vineyards in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. The Primitivo grape and the Zinfandel grape are two separate clones of a grape from Croatia named Crljenak Kasteljanski.
That grape is extremely obscure, so, amazingly, it found its way to Italy and California, where it thrives. To put different clones into perspective, a rose flower can be a single rose or a double rose; it can be red, pink, or several other colors. They are different but are still a rose.
While the label of the Grifone Primitivo 2020 says the grapes came from old vine Zinfandel (the vines may have been older, but Zinfandel is not grown in Italy), the two grapes have some important differences. Primitivo is dark and earthy but smooth and easy to drink. The Grifone is rated an IGT wine, indicating the vineyards can be located in a rather large area. Primitivo wines are more expensive from higher-rated locations, but at $4.99, IGT is fine.
In California, the Zinfandel ripens at different times on the same bunch. Some grapes can be too ripe, and others not ripe enough. The winemaker tries to split the difference when choosing the proper time to harvest. The Primitivo grape, on the other hand, ripens uniformly and evenly. It is thought that this is the reason why Zinfandel is spicy and Primitivo is smoother.
The Grifone Primitivo 2020 wines have been sold at Trader Joe’s for over a decade and consistently proved a $4.99 bargain. This is one of the reasons I enjoy Trader Joe’s wines; you may see a wine made from a grape or a region that you have not experienced before. At these low prices, you can be adventurous and not be taking much of a chance.
Trader Joe’s does not give production details on the Grifone Primitivo 2020, and the back label does not give too many hints. They mention vanilla as a flavor that indicates some oak aging; the oak program can not be too complicated at less than five bucks. The alcohol content is 13%.
Grifone Primitivo 2020 Tasting Notes
The Grifone Primitivo 2020 is a medium-bodied wine with smooth flavors balanced by a slap of spice. The color is a barely see-thru black cherry red. The nose is ripe and fruit-forward. There are scents of jammy raspberry, a little vanilla cream, light spice, blueberry, and a light floral edge.
This wine tastes like ripe blackberry, black pepper, plum, and strawberry jam (not sweet). The mid-palate adds orange zest and a little exotic spice, followed by a little vanilla and tart cranberry. There is a slight pull on the back of your palate from the tannins, which is very welcome in an inexpensive wine. Often value-priced wines lack tannins and acidity, but the Grifone Primitivo 2020 is a proper wine.
- I am no longer shocked when a $4.99 wine turns out to be an enjoyable drink.
- The spice is a little rough around the edges, but the fruit flavors are ripe and nectar sweet.
- This is an excellent Holliday party wine, a case is around $60 and the Grifone Primitivo 2020 has enough flavor to keep the guests happy.