Some of the best wine values in the world are made with grapes that most of you have never heard of, and this is one of them. The grape is Pecorino, the area of production is Terre di Chieti in Abruzzo, Italy, and the wine is simply fantastic. For fans of clean (no oak), but rich and textured white wines (a la Oregon Pinot Gris), you’ve got to try this one.
The story of the Pecorino grape is one that could easily be made into a Hollywood movie. It’s a grape that has been around for many, many years, but due to its low yielding tendencies, many grape growers had given up on it. Thank God for Guido Cocci Grifoni, a young grape researcher, who in the early 1980’s discovered one of the last remaining Pecorino vineyards in all of Italy.
Guido took cuttings from this vineyard back to his lab and eventually grafted them onto modern rootstocks. It took a couple of vintages before those vines produced grapes of any substance, but by the mid 1990’s, Pecorino was back and today it produces one of the most interesting and delicious white wines in all of Central Italy. It’s interesting to note that the grape is in no way related to the delicious salty cheese produced in the region. Instead, growers of Pecorino noticed that the sheep and their herders prevalent in the area loved eating these delicious grapes right off the vine.
Cantina Frentana is one of Central Italy’s top cooperatives, and their Pecorino is certified organic. That’s great and all, but what’s this stuff like? I’d classify this as full bodied and almost creamy, but clean and unoaked. Ripe peach, pear, apricot, banana, and floral/spice nuances explode out of the glass leading into a flavor packed palate of pit and orchard fruits, slight mineral, herb and spice.