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Executive editor Thomas Matthews joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beat is Spain.
Thomas Matthews

A Burly Italian Red for Chili

Maretima Primitivo Puglia IGT 2006

Thomas Matthews
Posted: March 30, 2009

We made chili for a dinner party one Saturday. Our version uses ground beef and pork, four different kinds of beans, onion, garlic, jalapeno and carrot, and both tomato sauce and tomato puree, along with the chili powder, of course. It's not that spicy, more sweet and smoky.

It's a heavy, rustic dish, so I wanted a heavy, rustic wine. That's why I turned to a Primitivo from Puglia, a wine region at the heel of Italy's boot. DNA research indicates that Primitivo is the same grape variety as California's Zinfandel, and in the heat of Southern Italy, it makes burly wines with spicy fruit.

The Maretima ($16 at my local wine shop) was thick, though not especially tannic, with sweet raisin and dried cherry flavors anchored by tobacco and earthy notes. It matched the weight and sweetness of the chili well, and dish and wine seemed somehow in harmony on a scale of, say, peasant to aristocrat. 84 points, non-blind, and perfectly acceptable at the table.

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