– 2018 COLONNARA FALERIO DOC PECORINO –
If your first thought was: “isn’t Pecorino an Italian Cheese”, after reading this week’s Cellar Pick’s name, you’re definitely not the only one. Truth is they both exist. Even though the italian Pecorino Cheese is well-known around the world, many of us have never heard of the Pecorino Grape. Which is an absolute shame, as there are some beautiful wines being made with this white grape variety. Including this week’s Cellar Pick of the Week:
Cellar Pick of the Week: 2018 Colonnara Falerio DOC Pecorino
Origin: Cupramontana, Marche, Italy
Grape varietal: Pecorino
So where does the confusion come from? Pecora means sheep in Italian. Therefore, the best Pecorino is always made from 100% sheep’s milk. Pecorino Cheese dates back several thousand years when people first started making cheese from sheep’s milk. These sheep used to graze in the wild and were particularly keen on these wild-growing grapes. Clearly, these sheep were onto something! It wasn’t until much later the farmers made the first wine from these grapes, and the first Pecorino Wine was a fact.
But why is this grape so unknown? Italy is known for several world-famous wines. Think of Chianti, Pinot Grigio and other internationally recognizable grape varieties. Why is Pecorino not one of them? The answer lies in the amount of attention the grapes need and the low yields. Even though it has been cultivated for hundreds of years, the typically low yields caused it to be mostly replaced by other more productive varieties. Many thought the Pecorino grape had fallen into obscurity or possible extinction. But in the 1980s, a Marche producer discovered some forgotten vines in an overgrown vineyard. Cuttings were taken, propagated, and wine was again produced in the early 1990s. Since then, the variety has grown and gotten a strong following. Pecorino is now grown in Marche, Abruzzo, Umbria and Tuscany.
The Pecorino grape grows best in higher altitudes and has a high acidity along with high sugar contents. The sugar helps create a high level of alcohol, with the acidity balancing it all out. Pecorino grapes get very type and crunchy and it lends itself well to dry wines with a fresh and citrusy bouquet and a medium-bodied palate with a nice minerality. It’s one of the top Italian whites, with a little more heft and gumption than Pinot Grigio. Despite the low yields, it produces a really high-quality wine, that almost never leaves the country. It is a fairly thin-skinned grape that can be naturally quite high in sugar, which may help explain their attractiveness for the wandering sheep. Luckily the grape is also naturally high in acidity which helps to keep the alcohol in balance.
The grapes can be used to produce a DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata) wine, in this case, the Falerio (Dei Colli Ascolani). It is a Denominazione di Origine Controllata white wine that is located in the region of Marche, in Italy. You’ll only get this if your vineyard is in this region that isn’t higher than 700 m above sea level, there’s a minimum 85% Pecorino Grapes used to produce the wine and the wine contains more than 12% alcohol.
The vineyard of Colonnara is located 200m above sea level and contains 13.5 % alcohol. It has an intense straw yellow colour, and an elegant bouquet, with hints of flowers and mature fruits. The taste is structured, sapid, persistent. Rounded in the mouth, the wine repeats the floral notes on the palate but adds in white peach and a bit of lemon zest, with a lingering melon note. The bright acid keeps the wine fresh and persistent while the wine remains medium-bodied throughout.
A perfect complement to seafood dishes.