Pecorino from two Abruzzo producers: Cirelli and Civaolich
Picture © Tom Hyland
If I asked a group of customers what they consider Pecorino, they ‘d most likely inform me just how much they enjoy this cheese. But if I inquired if they like the wine, they might look at me amusing.
That may not be the case in the future, however, as Pecorino has actually become a wine in need over the last half-dozen years, specifically by wine directors and sommeliers in top dining establishments. Clearly, these people – a number of whom are looking for something new and fashionable – are amazed by the unique flavors of Pecorino, which tend to use fragrances of orange enthusiasm, tropical fruit and yellow flowers along with hints of green herbs; this as opposed to lots of unoaked Italian white wines that can be identified by lemon, apple, pear and melon perfumes.
Pecorino the grape was supposedly called for the reality that shepherds would eat a few of these grapes when they were ripe in September while they were transporting their sheep throughout Abruzzo; as payment for consuming these grapes, they would provide a piece of Pecorino cheese to the grape growers. Whether real or not, it’s a cool story and adds to the charm of this white wine. It is grown in other Italian areas also – Marche is likewise an essential area for Pecorino – but Abruzzo has become something of a signature house for this varietal.
A lot of versions of Pecorino from Abruzzo are fermented and aged in stainless-steel or cement tanks; this to record the unique fruit aromas of the varietal. These are red wines that can be delighted in upon release, which is generally within 8-10 months after harvest; for the top examples, they can be enjoyed five to seven years after the harvest date. These wines frequently display a touch of minerality or sapidity in their finish, making them fantastic partners for most seafood or poultry. Suggested producers include Mazzarosa, Fosso Corno, Collefrisio, Ciavolich, Cirelli and Emidio Pepe; this last producer, most popular for their Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, added Pecorino to their portfolio over the past few years.
Francesco Cirelli in his cellar with amphorae
Picture courtesy Cirelli winery
Lately, a couple of producers in Abruzzo wanting to check out higher possibilities with Pecorino (as well as other regional varietals such as Trebbiano and Montepulciano) have begun to craft their Pecorino in amphora (plural, amphorae). These are generally terra cotta vessels that have their origins more than 5000 years earlier in the country of Georgia; today there is a substantial renaissance of manufacturers using amphora in the cellar in numerous regions throughout Italy.
Amongst the Abruzzo manufacturers that make an amphora-aged Pecorino include Vinum Hadrianum, Ciavolich and Cirelli. At this last estate, Francesco Cirelli is enthusiastic about amphora in the cellar; “it’s a neutral container that reveals the authentic taste of the grapes.” His amphora variation is much richer than his other example fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, as the amphora offering has a much deeper color, along with a richer texture, and shows greater complexity than the steel-aged variation. This is abundant enough to accompany lighter video game in addition to roast pork or veal loin and can consume well for at least 8 to 10 years.
Here are notes on a couple of highly suggested versions of Pecorino from Abruzzo:
Emidio Pepe Pecorino 2019 – Cloudy, medium-deep yellow; aromas of papaya, grapefruit and melon with an unique smokiness. Quite rich on the taste buds, there is very good level of acidity, exceptional intricacy and a powerful surface. Another year in the bottle will assist round this white wine out; peak in 5-7 years. (92 )
Francesco Cirelli – Pecorino “La Collina Biologica” 2021 – Francesco Cirelli has 2 lines of red wine; one dealt with in amphorae, and this, the La Collina Biololgica, from organic grapes. Fermented and aged in stainless-steel. Brilliant, medium yellow; aromas of orange blossom, green tea and papaya. Medium-bodied with a layered mid-palate, there is excellent level of acidity, excellent determination, lovely varietal character and noteworthy freshness. Relatively straightforward, however Cirelli has made a stylish white wine that has impressive texture. Take pleasure in over the next 2-4 years. (91 )
Abruzzo Pecorino 2019 – This is the amphora-aged Pecorino from Cirelli. Deep, medium-intense yellow with golden tints; fragrances of lemon custard, butter cream and dried yellow flowers. Medium-full with a rich mid-palate, very good acidity and significant perseverance; the surface displays notes of lemon enthusiasm and orange peel. There is a beautiful creaminess here, and the intricacy is top-notch. Enjoyable now, however this need to reveal more character over the next couple of years, with peak in 7-10 years. (93 )
Ciavolich Pecorino “Aries” 2021 – This is the steel-aged version of Pecorino from Ciavolich, an impressive manufacturer from the small town of Loreto Aprutino. Medium-deep yellow; scents of apricot, fusel oil and pineapple. Medium-full, this displays ripe, lavish tropical fruit notes, a delicate creaminess in the mid-palate, excellent acidity and noteworthy persistence. Although this is very young, the intricacy is outstanding and there are mineral notes in the surface, together with tips of orange peel and grapefruit. Approachable now, however this will undoubtedly offer greater complexity in another 2-4 years, peak in 5-8 years, possibly longer. (92 )
Ciavolich Pecorino “Fosso Cancelli” 2018 – This is the amphora-aged Pecorino from Ciavolich. Medium-intense deep golden yellow; aromas of yellow peach, nectarine, honey and golden poppy. Medium-full with a rich, layered mid-palate. Excellent acidity, there is outstanding determination, an enjoyable creaminess, extremely excellent varietal character and exceptional complexity. This is an extremely distinctive Pecorino with excellent subtleties, along with significant richness; there are notes of pear and sunflower oil in the surface. Pleasurable now, this will progress perfectly over the next 5-7 years, maybe longer. (95 )