Last Updated on August 16, 2021
Pairing a Pasta with Sugo alle Olive and Carvinea Organic Primitivo.
Meeting up with an Italian wine specialist and telling her how you are planning to pair the Primitivo from Puglia that you’ve been given to try is not always a good idea. In this particular case, I was explaining that I had a bottle of Carvinea Organic Primitivo | Salento IGP from Independent Wine and some pasta sauces from Seggiano – and that I was hoping the artichoke, ricotta and tomato sauce from Puglia would be a good match. Of course, although I’ve been wine tasting in Puglia, I hadn’t tried this particular Primitivo. My friend’s view was that an artichoke sauce would be overwhelmed. I needed something stronger, ideally with olives – a Sugo alle Olive. Luckily, when I got home and checked, there was indeed a jar of the Seggiano Sugo alle Olive in the cupboard.
Like many of the Seggiano products, this is artisan fare – produced by the De Carlo family using their own stone-milled extra virgin olive oil and local Rosate di Bitetto olives. Perfect!
I’d originally planned to make Orecchiette – the little ears pasta which is typical of Puglia. Like most southern Italian pasta it’s made without eggs and uses just the local flour, olive oil, salt and water. I learnt how to make this kind of pasta dough in Sicily and, if I’m honest the only reason I don’t make it more often is finding the right flour. I’m not entirely sure that the Italian pizza and pasta flour I used was right and am planning a little more research at the newly opened Eataly and perhaps at Lina stores if that doesn’t work. What certainly didn’t work was making the Orecchiette. I watched all sorts of videos but despite that, my ears were truly disfigured.
Instead, I reverted to Lolli – a shape I’d learnt with our Sicilian cook guiding my fingers. They worked far better and, cooked for 10 minutes, they made a great base for the sauce. All I had to do then was warm up some of the sauce, drain the pasta, add a little pasta water into the sauce, then add the pasta into the pan and stir through. I served topped with grated pecorino cheese and with a glass or two of Carvinea Primitivo on the side.
The Seggiano pasta sauce was truly impressive – it tasted like a mouthful of Southern Italy and I really couldn’t have made it better. And, as my Italian friend had suggested it paired really well with the Carvinea Primitivo.
Primitivo is a grape that originates in Croatia and Italy and is now widespread in Puglia and across southern Italy. Dark skinned and known for producing inky, tannic wines. It’s usually high in alcohol (this one is 14.5%) and if not aged carefully can be bitter. The grape was exported to the USA in the early 19th Century and has become one of the most popular red wine varieties there, under the name Zinfandel.
Carvinea wines come from a small historic town in Puglia called Carovigno, about forty minutes from Brindisi and to the north of the Salento winemaking area. This is a hot, dry location. For this Primitivo, grapes are harvested by hand in the second half of September then crushed and fermented on their skins in stainless steel tanks before maturing in new French oak barrels. It’s then aged in the bottle to allow the flavours to integrate. Certainly, there was no hint of bitterness in the wine I tried!
I loved the rich dark berry and plum aromas, with notes of smoke, chocolate and fig. It’s definitely a wine I’d buy again. Fine enough for a dinner party, it’s also easy to drink and full of flavour. Not surprisingly it’s won several awards, recently the Tre Bicchieri 2020 (for the 2017 vintage) and Wine Hunter Gold for the 2018 vintage. The 2017 vintage retails for £18.82 from Independent Wine.
For more Italian wines, do check out the Independent Wine website
And, for a really impressive selection of artisan Italian produce, Seggiano.
Finally, if you’d like to try your hand at making southern Italian pasta, check my previous feature on making pasta in Sicily.