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The cheese-tastic Pecorino grape

I’ve touched on it before, Italy really is a treasure chest for unexplored grape varieties and wine styles. Unless you’ve been studying viticulture in Italy for half of your life, you’ll only be looking at the very tip of the iceberg. In the grand scheme of things, no matter how much we drink on our travels, we’ll never see the whole picture. That’s the best thing about wine. You never stop learning and enjoying new experiences.

One of the many indigenous Italian varieties is Pecorino, an early-ripening white grape found throughout Abruzzo, Umbria and Lazio. Pecorino is not to be confused with the ancient Tuscan cheese of the same name. I discovered this classic cheese in Rome last year. It’s more of an ‘everyday’ cheese, not at the same level as Parmesan, but a good bit easier on the wallet. I made quick work of a block of it and a bottle of Dolcetto on my last night there. And what a night it was.

The Pecorino grape, something of an endangered species in the big brand wine world, makes subtle, characterful wines. Farnese’s Marco Scarinci told Curious Wines how the future of the Italian wine industry rests on promoting and priding itself on indigenous varieties which give a real expression of their territory. It’s like trying to give Italy that ‘treasure chest’, boutiquey edge, making it a source of incredible riches, and very importantly, choice for all those curious wine drinkers who love to try different things.

Pecorino, adorned by Scarinci, is not a sweet fruit bomb with adrenalin inducing acidity. It is what it is. A product of the land, the winemaker and the variety itself. Farnese’s Pecorino is a great example. It’s a wine made with the same gusto that transformed their Trebbiano white into the International Wine Challenge Wine of the Year.

Delicate, but concentrated, with just a little oak for added complexity there’s a tantalising minerality on the nose leading to a concentrated, crisp palate with real depth and class and a lovely long finish. Expect balsamic notes and aromas of apples and pears on the nose; excellent body, intensity and persistence, with an ideal balance of mellowness and freshness.

That’s good Pecorino all over. It’s not trying to be anything else. Except when it’s cheese.

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