Primitivo is rustic, deeply-colored, high in alcohol and highly extracted. Of its two DOC designations, Primitivo di Gioia is produced as a dry wine, while Primitivo di Manduria may also be produced as a sweet or fortified wine.
Primitivo thrives in hot climates. The bunches are medium-size, and produce thick skinned, dusky blue berries that are especially juicy and sweet.
Primitivo and Zinfandel are clones of the same variety but are not the same grape. Primitivo has been planted in Puglia since the mid-1700s, but research shows it is indigenous to Croatia. An ancestor called Crljenak is identical to Zinfandel, so Zinfandel appears to predate Primitivo.