This month I’m hosting our Italian Food, Wine, Travel group of writers highlighting the ancient grape Pecorino. We’re hoping to find examples of wines made with this grape in the Italian regions where it grows most: Le Marche and Abruzzo. Pecorino vines are found in Liguria, Tuscany, Lazio, and Umbria in Italy too.
There’s not much Pecorino in the ground. According to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes there was just 215 acres (87 hectares) in Italy in 2000.
It was rediscovered before she wrote that by Guido Cocci Grifoni, when it caught his eye in the early 1980s. He was a producer in Le Marche and uncovered a farmer growing it in Pescara, Abruzzo. Grifoni took cuttings and grafted some 100 rootstocks with it in Offida near his home in the Le Marche region. His first 100% Pecorino, Colle Vechio, was released in 1990.
Capable of producing distinctive wines, its popularity exploded after that. It’s been called the “comeback kid” and Italy’s ‘hot and trendy’ white grape. And the ‘worthy by the glass’ results accord well with many in industry.
There’s still not a significant amount grown but the grape caught attention and is no longer on the verge of extinction.
While I didn’t know about the grape in 2011, Pecorino received DOCG status that year- Offida Pecorino DOCG- thanks to producers’ investments in research and experimentation to identify where it grows best in its native home, Le Marche. Wines must be 85% Pecorino, but are often 100%.
Pecorino Hails in Abruzzo Too
Grifoni helped rescue Pecorino but Luigi Cataldi Madonna and sons helped its revival in Abruzzo, uncovering many indigenous varieties including Pecorino. It’s produced under the Abruzzo and Terre Tollesi (Tullum) DOCs where Pecorino must be a minimum of 85%. It’s also produced under the following Abruzzo IGPs:
- Terre di Chieti
- Colline Pescaresi
- Colline Teatine
- Colli Aprutini
- Early ripening and fairly resistant to powdery and downy mildews
- Low yielding due to sterility of the basal buds causing moderate and irregular yields (a reason growers moved away from it, choosing easier to grow varieties)
- Performs well at high altitudes
- High acidity
- Aromas and flavors range from floral (acacia, jasmine), herbal (sage, thyme) and fresh citrusy to zesty with a saline minerality. It can impart licorice and minty notes too, and sometimes green apple to tropical fruits and hazelnuts.
- Fresh and delicate or firm and bold on the palate.
Varietal wines pair well with seafood, poultry, risotto, and vegetarian dishes. Try sheep milk cheeses too, including the one and only Pecorino!
~ What We Have In Store For You ~
If you want to introduce a new white wine into your repertoire, I nudge you to Pecorino, you might fall in love. I hope the following titles entice you to join us, and/or look for Pecorino wines! We will be live on Twitter Saturday, May 4th at 11am EDT / 17:00 in Italy for a chat about all things Pecorino, Le Marche, and Abruzzo. We use the hashtag #ItalianFWT. If you miss the chat you can still find all articles at the links below. This is what we have in store:
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will dazzel us with “Oven-Roasted Trout with Citrus Salsa Crudo + 2017 Lunaria “Civitas” Pecorino”
Gwendolyn, the Wine Predator is “Pairing Pecorino d’Abuzzo from Ferzo: Lemon Caper Shrimp #ItalianFWT”
Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Sheepish about new kinds of wine? Try Pecorino! #ItalianFWT”
Cindy at Grape Experiences does a “Twirl. Sip. Savor. Creamy Garlic Shrimp with Linguini with 2016 Tenuta Cocci Grifoni Offida Pecorino Colle Vecchio”
Lauren at The Swirling Dervish asks “Looking for a New White Wine to Serve this Spring? Try Pecorino from Tenuta Santori in Italy!”
Susannah from Avvinare shares “Pecorino from the Lady from Le Marche – Angela Velenosi- Velenosi Vini”
Jeff at Food Wine Click goes “On the Hunt for the Pecorino Grape”
David from Cooking Chat shares “Roasted Asparagus Pasta with Pecorino”
Jennifer at Vino Travels discovers “Grape of the Sheep with Umani Ronchi Pecorino”
Steven from Steven’s Wine and Food Blog cooks up a “Brodetto di Pesce Wine Pairing #ItalianFWT”
Katarina at Grapevine Adventures discusses “Le Marche & Abruzzo – Two Regions… Two Expressions of Pecorino”
Kevin from SnarkyWine is sharing “Pecorino – Welcome to the Fold”
Here at Savor the Harvest, I’m “Discovering the Pecorino Grape #ItalianFWT”
Hope you’ll join us May 4th. Either way, enjoy all of the articles!