Friday, April 14, 2006

Appellation America and Signorina Primitivo

In Europe's wine industry, wines are known first by their specific place of origin (appellation), then by producer or shipper, and by grape variety. Sometimes the order varies slightly, but in general the region comes first, which is helpful to know, because in North America appellation seems to be unfinished business. Our wines almost always are identified by grape-type or, if a blend, by the blend's name. With more than 200 federally designated winegrowing regions in North America, just a few of these appellations receive much common public recognition -- Napa Valley is certainly one, and, up here in the north, the Columbia Valley. Appellation America is an online publication that serves the North American wine industry through promotion of our growing number of distinct winegrowing regions. It is their goal to reach the wine industry and wine consumer and to educate and raise the consciousness of the American wine consumer about terroir and the other elements that make appellations unique. The goal is to build interest in the diversity and distinctiveness of North American wines.

What is more, Appellation America's approach to terroir and varietal education is fun! I received an email from them asking me to check out their "Varietal Characters." This is a project where writers turn a grape into a personality based on the varietal's distinctive color, tasting notes, history and growing environment. This project intrigued me, so I perused the list of varietals, chose one and put a personality to this grape. I had been thinking about Primitivo after a discussion about it with Dean Morrison of Morrison Lane Vineyards here in Walla Walla; we talked quite a bit about Primitivo's relationship to Zinfandel. I also happened to discover a stash of award-winning, and rather obscure, California Primitivo in a local store, and bought every bottle available. It was magnifico!

Yesterday, I received an email from Adam at Appellation America directing me to their site - Grapes. My Primitivo came to life! I introduce to you... Signorina Primitivo!
Signorina Primitivo, in the arid flat lands of Apulia you played violin in the Italian Symphony. But since childhood, you dreamed of performing solo, hoping your talents would someday lead you to America where stardom awaited. While dreary of playing ‘second fiddle’ to your zesty brother, Zinfandel, and his New World legacy, you were more staid than your flamboyant sibling, never wanting America to take you lightly, dressing you in pink. Yet you desired more from life than just a minor player in a vast orchestra. You wanted to stand alone as an enigma! At last you are proving that your chords are explosive and the notes from your bow are passionate and spicy. Your violin, resting on full breasts, smokes with allegros that are feral and succulent like wild berries, erupting into a crescendo that is heady and exhilarating. Signorina Primitivo, we give you a standing ovation!

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