Erminio Campa, A Pearl in Primitivo di Manduria

Pure, Primitive and Palate Pleasing

Pure, unadulterated Primitivo.  That’s what you get when you sip a glass of Erminio Campa Primitivo di Manduria.  I had the pleasure of visiting Erminio Campa Viticoltore on a Press Tour to explore the Manduria region of Puglia.  I was immediately drawn to their wines, as it was love at first taste!  I knew I wanted to learn more.
Interacting with Ermino Campa

Ermino, Francesco
and Valentino Campa

Erminio Campa is a fantastic wine producer in Puglia, located in Taranto, in the municipality of Torricella.  This is a typical area of Primitivo di Manduria, about 3 km from the Ionian Sea. The vineyards have been in the family for over three generations. Today, the winery is managed by Ermino and his brothers Francesco and Valentino. They produce only Primitivo di Manduria in a total area of approximately 20 hectares of vines. Using alberello Pugliese, the vines grow in average clay soils and “terra rossa”, the typical red, iron-oxide rich soils of the region. The vineyards are 30-40 meters above sea level and in a favorable position to benefit from the Apulian sun and gentle sea breezes. The terrain and Mediterranean climate are optimal for wine production. 

Vineyards at Erminio Campa 
The Vineyards at Sunset

Erminio Campo doesn’t just produce wine, they produce organic wine.  This is quite remarkable because there are many difficulties involved in organic viticulture, and in Puglia, many farmers lack the resources to practice or even compete in this type of farming. Therefore, Ermino Campa Viticoltore is truly making a name for themselves. When I inquired about their organic methods, I learned that along with a manual harvest, there is “cultivation of the vineyards that is executed with modern techniques, but with the utmost attention to ecological and biological balance, and with great respect for the environment and for the plants.”  Love for their native Primitivo grape and love for the planet provides a perfect combination, and this is displayed in their wines.

The Wining Hour with Ermino Campa Wines:

While in Manduria, Puglia, I had a few opportunities to taste the wines of Ermino Campa. I tasted the wines at a Primitivo Master Class, a few walk-around tastings, at dinners and during a visit to their beautiful vineyards and B & B, Perla nel Primitivo (Pearl in the Primitive). I was impressed each time.

Perla Nel Primitivo B & B

These were the two Primitivos I tasted: 

Erminio Campa Li Janni Primitivo di Manduria DOP

This wine is produced in contrada “Janni”, from which the name is derived, with 100% Primitivo grapes from 15 year old vines in Torricella. After hand-harvesting the grapes from the medium grain clay soil, the wine is fermented and macerated at controlled temperature.  Aging is completed in stainless steel tanks. Li Janni is ruby red and fragrant with ripe raspberry and plum aromas, while blackberry, smoky prune and earth are on the palate. Li Janni has an excellent display of fruit with good acidity, smooth tannins and a persistant finish. 14% ABV.


Erminio Campa Li Cameli Primitivo di Manduria DOP

This wine is also made from 100% Primitivo grapes, but from 40 year old vines in Torricella in contrada “Cameli.”  Following a manual harvest from the “terra rosso.” or red Mediterranean soil, the wine undergoes fermentation and maceration at controlled temperatures.  This wine is also refined in stainless steel tanks. Li Cameli has a deep red, garnet appearance and draws you in with intense, ripe aromas of jam, blackberry, prune with earthy notes. The palate also manifests that same earthiness, blackberry and plum, along with spicy cherry and tobacco. 
Despite the high alcohol that is typical of Primitivo, Li Cameli is 15% ABV, but very smooth and balanced with velvet tannins. Moreover, mineral notes from the terra rosso shine through and give it a certain freshness. Combined with the minerality and fruit, the thick, powerful and round mouth-feel of this wine makes it an awesome expression of Primitivo. Li Cameli was my first taste of Erminio Campa, and not only did it possess my palate, it immediately captured my heart.

I should also add that the winemaker is as pure as the wine he makes.  He is proud of what he does and the warmth and passion is evident.  At Ermino Campa, winemaking is a real family affair, and it was truly a pleasure meeting Erminio, his mother and daughter. 

Me and Ermino Campa in the Vineyards!

Did I mention that I also love the name of these wines? Any wine that begins with “Li” must be good! Both Li Janni and Li Cameli have received numerous awards, including Gambero Rosso in 2018.  What’s even more remarkable, is the fact that Li Cameli was chosen not only one of the best Italian restaurant wines by Alitalia, but it is also selected by Pope Francesco! The Pope has excellent taste in wine, and clearly, so do I! 

To become more acquainted with this pearl in Primitivo di Mandura, or to please your palate with an exceptional Puglian wine, be sure to explore Ermino Campa Viticoltore, “A certainty of the Apulian enology.” 

Also see:

Feel the Heel with these 10 Primitivos di Manduria

Primavera, Perfect for Tramari Rosé of Primitivo

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Planted, harvested and aged in NY. I have a background in education and marketing, with a love and passion for travel...and all things wine. In addition to writing about wine, I also maintain an online wine boutique (thewininghour.com) that caters to the winelover, as well as the weekly vinous winechat (#WiningHourChat) on Twitter (see page for more info).

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