Masso Antico (Apulia) – Primitivo

This was a gift from a long-time family friend who stopped by to have dinner with us on their way from San Diego to Disneyland. This is a $10-15 wine with a 99-point score heralded by a big sticker affixed to the label.

I tend to like Primitivo wines. I also like Zinfandel, which is consistent because they are, in fact, the same grape.

Dark, dark red. Not purple like Shiraz but still dark. Dark cherry nose with a bit of tire. As we swish it around inside our mouths the tannins come on very, very smooth. Swallow and you get a nice crescendo of mouth-puckering deliciousness. Both my wife and I really enjoyed this lush wine.

Look at the bottom of the front label. In small font they’ve written:

Da Uve Leggermente APPASSITO

What does this mean? The direct translation is “From Grapes Lightly Appassito.”

OK, so what does Appassito mean then? It means that the grapes were “passed by” or “withered” – allowed to dry (raisinate) a bit.

It’s the same process that makes Amarone so rich: water evaporates from inside the grapes, concentrating flavors. In this case, maybe the grapes were only slightly shriveled. I don’t really know.


  • Primitivo is Zinfandel, or more properly, Zinfandel is Primitivo
  • Apulia is Italy’s stiletto heel. In English, it is spelled Puglia.
  • The most important thing to note is that it is really hot down there. Grapes can get very ripe, wines very rich and alcoholic. But at 14%, this wine is well within the normal range.
  • And this is a partially appassito wine which means the flavors were further enhanced by partial drying (raisining). The ultimate exemplar of appassito is Amarone.
  • This wine has two stickers affixed: a 99-point score from an Italian wine critic and a Silver Medal (80-86 points) from the IWSC. Who is right? Who knows?
  • I did a bit of research and found out that Luca Maroni publishes a annual review of Italian wines. So he’s a serious critic. I also found a number of exasperated (non-Italian) wine drinkers who couldn’t believe the high scores he gave to certain wines – including this one. Is Luca loco?
IWSC judges gave it scores ranging from 80-86…

…but Luca loved!

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