Thursday, October 11, 2012

Layer Cake Primitivo

For the last year or so, I've noticed that a number of Layer Cake wines have arrived in the Vancouver market.  I hadn't tried any of them yet but Boo picked up a couple on recent travels and I figured we could start off with the Italian entrant in the portfolio since it was pasta night on the home front.

1259.  2008 Layer Cake Primitivo (IGT Puglia - Italy)

Considering the fact that we had this Italian Primitivo (or Zinfandel) and an Aussie Shiraz in reserve, it didn't take a genius to realize that Layer Cake wasn't going to be your standard stand alone winery.  A little Google action goes a good ways with Layer Cake.  The label is the brainchild of Jayson Woodbridge, the owner of and vintner behind the California cult Cabs of Hundred Acre.  Woodbridge acknowledges the influence his grandfather has provided for his outlook in business and winemaking and he's further noted that his grandfather "would have been hard pressed to buy a bottle" of Hundred Acre which generally goes for $300+.  Accordingly, Woodbridge has worked to craft a more affordable wine as well - Layer Cake is the answer.

The label currently offers an assortment of seven varietals, but the primary kick is that the wines are all 100% varietally driven with the grapes being grown and the wines being produced in regions around the world that are perhaps best known for that grape - such as their Australian Shiraz, California Cab, Argentine Malbec.

The Primitivo harkens back to Italy and to what most folks now agree is the starting point for California Zinfandel - Primitivo.  DNA studies now claim that the grapes are genetically identical; however, the Layer Cake website proclaims that their label is the first certified label to show both varietals on the label as synonyms for each other.

I definitely found it interesting that the grapes are grown in the Manduria region - part of the heel in the Italian boot - and they are permitted to be used in wines for the "higher" categoried DOC wines.  The Manduria appellation requires 14% alcohol, however, and the winemakers preferred to finish the wine at a lower alcohol level.  Accordingly, they had no choice but to go with the "lesser" regional IGT designation.

All that being said, the wine in the glass certainly seemed more reminiscent of a New World, California Zin than the majority of Italian wines I'm familiar with.  I was surprised - and pleasantly so - by the jammy notes on the wine.  If I hadn't know what the wine was in advance, I doubt I'd have ever guessed that it was Italian.  As far as enjoying the wine though, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I find that many - if not most - Italian wines need to be accompanied by food to truly enjoy them.  I could easily see serving the Layer Cake as a stand up cocktail wine.  Needless to say, we had no problem finishing off the bottle with our pasta.

I'll be interested to see how Layer Cake has approached the wines from the other regions.

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