The other day I was doing what I love best, randomly browsing a wine aisle creating a mid-aisle trolley hazard, when I spotted Morrisons The Best Pecorino and went a bit light-headed.
I was drawn to it because a) it is from the Abruzzo region in Italy which I’ve just visited b) it has a picture of a sheep on the label c) it isn’t pinot grigio.
There is complete logic in my ABC so let me explain.
I bet many of you (hello? I hope there’s more than one of you out there) will have tasted the Italian reds labelled Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I’ve found they can be hit and miss; but on speaking to the producers in their wineries I discovered that Abruzzo wines bottled outside the region can have little essence and personality due to the bulk processes involved.
To taste the wines which are bottled in situ was fantastic, some were divine. My eyes were opened sipping these reds in the region in which they’re born.
Another eye-opener was the white wine. Italian whites can be oh-so so-so but Abruzzo’s pecorino, passerina and trebbiano are fresh, zingy, often tropical, often citrussy, sometimes complex.
Back to my ABC and Morrisons The Best Pecorino (I’d paid £8, prices may vary, 13% abv). I was giddy at the sheep label on Morrisons’ bottle because in Abruzzo a winemaker had told me the grape is so-called because as sheep (pecoro) are herded over the hillsides they eat the grapes. I’d also been seeking a white wine to encourage friends to try new white wines, instead of always drinking pinot grigio. I thought this pecorino could be a winner.
Then, success. “I love it,” one friend said, as the pecorino’s peachy and zesty notes won her heart. Oh – and as an aside, this wine has won a silver trophy at the International Wine Challenge.
Thank you Abruzzo for one lady converted to my “don’t just drink pinot grigio” cause.
Here’s four more Abruzzo wines you can seek out
Contesa Pecorino 2016 (£9.75, thewinesociety.com, 12.5% abv) A white wine with inviting aromas of summer flowers – freesias maybe – with lemons and a dash of dried honey with a lively acidity and citrus flavours. There’ll still be some summer left, somewhere in the world, and it’s a perfect sunshine wine.
Abruzzo Cococciola Frentana 2016 (£11, Bat and Bottle – batwine.uk, 12.5% abv) Cococciola is a grape new to me, though I’ll be seeking it out again. Lime and lemons are a zesty tease on the nose, together with spring flowers on a breeze. The citrus flavours are refreshing, the acidity not too demanding a sensation. It’s a wine nicely in balance and calling out for a seafood platter.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015 Masciarelli (£11.99, or £9.99 in a mix six deal at Majestic, 13% abv) Pepper and spice and all plummy things nice. I love this wine, with its aroma notes of dry wood, cherries, damsons and black pepper. In the mouth black fruit and cherry are centre stage, the tannins aren’t overpowering and the acidity isn’t too racy. I’ll have a steak please.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Vigna Corvino, 2015 (£7.95, thewinesociety.com, 12.5% abv) The nose speaks freshly-picked hedgerow fruits, ripe and juicy, and a dalliance with spice. The acidity is medium and the tannins are drying but not too much. The fruit is young, fresh and pleasing. A lovely glass to drink with friends as you wait for the pizza to cook.
The four wines I tasted were among the Top 50 Abruzzo wines selected by Masters of Wine Sam Caporn and Peter McCombie, together with Naked Wines Buying Director Ray O’Connor and sommelier expert Matt Day.