Aromas of black cherry and raspberry jam are complemented by an exotic bouquet of cigar smoke, dried brush and tealeaf. The wine is quite velvety on the palate with soft tannins and bright acidity while the flavors are characterized by forward black cherry, a core of red cherry and latté, and a finish of brambleberry, black pepper and toasted oak.
The origins of the primitivo grape have been studied by Italian and California grape geneticists since the mid-1960s. They now maintain that primitivo and zinfandel are clones of the same grape variety, but with contrasting ripening cycles, yields and susceptibility to bunch rot.
Drilling down even further, professor Carole Meredith of UC Davis discovered (in 2002) that zinfandel and primitivo share the same DNA with the Croatian grape crljenak kastelanski, and consequently, she called the grape variety by the acronym of all three names, “ZPC”, before retiring in 2003.
Cinnabar sourced primitivo fruit from Catherine’s Vineyard, a 100-acre planting in the El Pomar district of Paso Robles that lies downwind of the Templeton Gap. The vineyard was developed with a spectrum of European varieties from 1999 through 2005, and is farmed with sustainable practices in composted sandy clay-loam soils. With warm, sunny days and cool nights and mornings, the conditions of this eastside location mimic those found in southeastern Italy's Puglia region where many believe the best primitivo grapes are grown.
Vintage 2010 produced an average size crop with full flavors and ideal acidity, but the cool year had winemakers wondering if grapes would ever ripen. Heavy rain in January and February was followed by a cold, wet March that delayed budbreak, bloom and berry set. April and May were drier, but the ripening curve remained flat under cool conditions. June, July and August saw persistent morning fog burning off to warmer afternoons. The coolness finally broke with a heat spike in late August followed by two more in September. Many vineyards were picked after the second of three storms in October with winemakers rejoicing the quality of a delayed harvest that was nearly “washed away.