Zona Pecorino Abruzzo Terre di Chieti (2010)

zona pecorinoOne of my goals with this blog is to discover lesser-known Italian varietals with you, dear reader. There are many varietals that even I, your writer and lover off all culinary things Italian, am not familiar with. Sure, we also look at Chiantis and Barolos and the like, but it is days like today, when I share with you little-heard-of varietals like Pecorino, that I get truly excited.

Pecorino, you ask? Isn’t that a cheese? Of course, it is also the name of some of the finest cheeses in all of Italy. Pecora means sheep, and Pecorino is a word that can be applied to any sheep’s milk cheese (though when someone says “Pecorino,” without a modifier, they are typically referring to Pecorino Romano). It just so happens that the sheep liked to snack on this grape varietal, so it also became known as Pecorino.

What’s even more interesting about Pecorino is that, until about 25 years ago, it was thought to be extinct. It was not cultivated anywhere in Italy, until some nearly wild vines were discovered in a gorge in Le Marche. Once the plant was identified as Pecorino, it began to re-emerge as part of the Le Marche and Abruzzo white wine scene.The wine is known for its fragrant fruit as well as a distinctive minerality on the finish. Fans of un-oaked Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc may want to give this varietal a try.

This particular wine, which hails from the Terre di Chieti region of Abruzzo, is available for the first time in the US through the PA Chairman’s Selection program ($12). Outside PA, the grape remains quite rare in this country, but there are a few available online.

Tasting Notes:

Aromas of bright peach and melon, with a touch of grass and minerals. Fruit is less prominent on the palate, and the finish can be a tad harsh, with notes of tart lemon and a hefty dose of minerals. Not really the type of wine I go for, but may appeal to lovers of un-oaked Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.