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Editor at large Harvey Steiman joined Wine Spectator in 1983.
Harvey Steiman

A Ripe Red for Pizza

Cantele Primitivo Salento 2008

Harvey Steiman
Posted: April 30, 2010

My local pizzeria, Gialina in San Francisco, offers a short list of a half-dozen simple Italian wines to drink with such terrific pizzas as one with nettles and pancetta and another with winter squash, fresh ricotta and ricotta salata. One can wish for better glasses than the tumblers the restaurant uses, but the wines are not complex, just solid and fruity, and suffer little harm.

As a change of pace from my usual choice of Salice Salentino, my wife and I decided to try a new wine on the list, Cantele Primitivo Salento 2008 in a 500ml carafe. Made from the grape called Zinfandel in California, it’s a winner. Neither too rich nor too light, it brims with dark plum and blackberry flavor on a soft, supple frame, finishing on a creamy note. 89 points, non-blind.

The Primitivo’s youthful vigor was just the thing for our appetizer of little meatballs in a spicy marinara sauce and our pesto pizza topped with Bull’s Blood (beet) greens, fresh ricotta, black olives and ricotta salata.

• WineSpectator.com members, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Primitivos, along with our quick list of Top Values among California Zinfandel.

Andrew J Walter
Sacramento, CA —  April 30, 2010 9:50pm ET
The wine sounds good but ... beets on a pizza..thats just plain wrong!
Harvey Steiman
San Francisco, CA —  May 1, 2010 4:56pm ET
No beets, Andrew, just the greens. They taste kind of like a cross between nettles and arugula. Nice balance to the pesto and olives.
Bill Houston
Montvale, Nj —  December 2, 2011 3:14pm ET
Just picked up a bottle on the away home, on a whim, to go with some meatball, and sausage calzones I'm having for dinner tonight. Nice to know now it will probably work well. Always cool to have a whim pay off, as most of them do not.

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