Producer Profile: Inland from the Adriatic Sea, central Puglia forms the heel of Southern Italy’s boot, and within this region a small town named Sammichele di Bari rises high on a plateau known as Altopiano delle Murge, or more simply, Murgia. The town’s population is modest – around 6000 – though this is a place defined first and foremost by its agricultural past and present. The bucolic environs around Sammichele attest to such landed practices here of olive & cherry cultivation, grapevines typically farmed for local consumption or sold off to larger wineries. Cattle farming has been a specialty here, with Sammichele famous for a special kind of dish called Zampina, a specific type of sausage that is the star of a local festival each year called ‘Sagra della Zampina’ or Festival of The Paw. It is here that a group of friends that had plied their trade as craft brewers decided to switch the fermentation gears and take up their dream project of farming and making natural wine. One of the town’s old white stone farmhouses – locally known as a Masseria – had long been in the family of Marianna Pastore Bovio, and their concomitant grapevines had been farmed organically for decades though, as was common practice, their grapes were sold rather than made into wine on the estate. In 2019, this changed when she and her husband – along with five friends and brewers – decided to convert the old stable house (for cattle!) into a fermentation cellar, and to farm three hectares of their estate for the production of natural wine, fresh and wild takes on local classics, such as Primitivo. Though undoubtedly – despite being only 2 years old! – the watermark of the wines of Masseria La Cattiva is adventure and daring. These are some of the most exciting wines being made in the southeast of Italy – devilishly delicious bottles with some flair.
Vinification: 100% Primitivo. Grapes hand-harvested early to preserve acidity, then de-stemmed and crushed, followed by a short maceration with frequent punchdowns. The juice is then pressed and racked into stainless steel tank, where it finishes fermentation and matures for 8 months. Bottled unfined, unfiltered with no SO2.
Tasting: A gluggable, easy, lightly-acidic red to pair with a pizza night. Strawberries and cold rainier cherries straight out of the fridge. Ultimate red refresher. It's worth noting that this may be the only 10.5% primitivo you'll ever find, being a grape that typically goes into hearty, rustic, big-fruited 14 percenters. An extra big pour might be in order.