Mark Shannon and Elvezia Sbalchiero, the duo behind A Mano, have worked in the wine business for most of their lives. Elvezia is a northern Italian wine marketing expert and Mark is a Californian winemaker. They fell in love with Puglia and, when they decided to start their own label, made it their home. By producing wines of quality, Mark and Elvezia have succeeded in making Primitivo one of Italy's most talked about grape varieties. They pay high prices for the best grapes from 70 to 100-year-old vines and focus solely on quality and a modern style. After over fifteen vintages, they are now getting access to some of Salento's best grapes.
The grapes for this wine come from 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 altitude is approximately 30-60 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 (one acre) and the best sites have a crumbly, dark reddish brown soil that resembles instant coffee.
Native yeasts were used for the fermentation which took place at very low temperatures (16ºC), in order to retain the raspberry aromas of classic Primitivo. The wine underwent malolactic fermentation and then aged in 80% French and 20% American new oak barrels for a period of two months. After bottling the wine is rested for around four months before release.
Deeply coloured and exuberant on the nose, with perfumes of ripe, red fruit, especially raspberries and a spicy, smoky edge from the oak ageing. On the palate it is youthful and full-bodied, with a great balance between ripe, rounded fruit characters including blackberry and blueberry, sweet, toasty oak and ripe, full tannins.