Pasta Rustica with Primitivo (Italian Zinfandel)

Pairing: Pasta Rustica with 2009 Leone de Castris Primitivo di Mandoria Villa Santera

Food: Pasta Rustica is a favorite meal of ours that we enjoy frequently (on Wednesdays … of course!). It is made with turkey or chicken sausage, canned tomatoes, herbs, and three cheeses … ricotta, fontina (or mozzarella), and Parmigiano-Reggiano. A link to the recipe can be found here. Although the recipe calls for penne, almost any shaped pasta can be used. We prefer tortiglioni. Our dish is accompanied by toasted olive bread and Italian green beans.


Wine:  The vineyards of the Leone de Castris winery are found near the tiny village of Salice Salentino on the Salento Peninsula in Puglia, the southernmost wine region in Italy. Think of the “heel of the boot” when looking at a map of Italy. Savvy travelers know this to be among the prettiest coastal areas in all of Italy and not nearly as touristy as other more well known regions of the country. The Primitivo grape is widely planted across Puglia. Fairly recent DNA testing has revealed that Primitivo and Zinfandel (grown widely in California) are genetically the same, both grapes tracing their origin to the Crljenak Kastelanski, an ancient Croatian variety. We like to think of Primitivo wine as Zinfandel with “elbows” (our own term), a desirable roughness found in many Italian wines.


Tasting:  This full-bodied wine is a deep reddish purple color. The nose is rich in blueberry and cherry notes. On the palate, flavors of dark fruit, cinnamon and cloves are present. There is an overall gentle sweetness to this dry wine that goes well with the sweet tomato sauce and cheeses used to make the Pasta Rustica.

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food:  Chianti Classico, Barbera d’Alba or d’Asti, Valpolicella

Other Food That Pairs Well with This Wine:  Aged Cheeses, Grilled Chicken, Sausage, Pasta with Spicy Tomato Sauce

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