My first encounter with this illusive grape goes back 11 years to Verona during Vin Italy. Traveling with my mentor Henry Bishop, I felt Robin to Batman….and as was typical of him, carefully laid-out plans led to an introduction; which I pleasantly can say made a remarkable first impression. This was also my threshold moment into what a wine was capable of outside the expected norms.
This obscure varietal originates in the Marche region of Italy (central-east). The name is rumored to come from the fact that the sheep of the region would nibble these grapes along with their requisite grasslands as they were being herded to lowland pastures. These journey’s resulting in the eventual milking of the sheep and this milk being used by the artisan cheese-makersof the area using this milk to produce lush and salty Pecorino cheese. As it typical with Italy the elements of a region are often brought together harmoniously resulting in exemplary food & wine.
Small vineyards producing this grape are found scattered throughout the Marche & Abruzzo, which is where ours is found. The Pecorino we serve currently is not typical, very rich & structured where these wines usually offer a lighter, less intense expression of the grape. The grape itself is very white and thin-skinned. The fragility of the grape is in fact the reason it almost faded into legend, as it’s slight-physique can lead to early splitting and sometimes rot. Fruit yield then, understandably is limited.
That which survives however is quite the go-getter…. usually reaching full ripeness by September being it is well-suited for the harsher climate of these regions. The result is a rich, viscous, yellow-fruit nose which leads to a salty, minerality which is quite unexpected. Jasci produces this very limited, bio-dynamic, 2007 juice in Abruzzo. Suggested pairing would be our goat-cheese tortalacci, which has a brown-butter sauce complimented by black truffle…or simply enjoy with any sheep’s milk cheese, and reminisce about the great lengths this vino has traveled to become a food-driven-contender!