Recently I have been re-acquainting myself with Italy and Spain. I have been increasingly slipping into the supermarket-induced belief that there are only seven grape varieties available for anyone with less than twelve pounds to spend on a bottle of wine. In an effort to address this, I have turned to two countries who know a thing or two about encouraging diverse native grapes as well as producing classic varietals, and hopefully I can share with you some of the gems of this voyage of discovery, as well as saving you from spending on the occasional duds I encounter.
Pecorino might be a word you mentally associate with cheese before wine, and the low yields of the grape added to the Abruzzan tendency to keep their best produce at home might explain why we don’t get to see as much Pecorino on the wine racks as the deli counters. It’s a great shame because Pecorino can be the basis of some fascinating wines, and the Tenuta Ulisse produced Pecorino Unico is no exception. This wine is really stunning, starting with the weighty yet sleek bottle complete with glass stopper. The nose only raises the expectations, capturing peachy fruit and the essence of sitting in a fruit grove in a warm but not baking heat. There’s a tiny hint of something nutty, suggesting that the palate will live up to the hype, which it actually exceeds. There is so much fruit and zip at first that the nose seems to have disguised in a strange way, as peach is joined by citrus and a real zingy kick, yet the kick peaks and subsides quickly to give way to something far more subtle and sublime, a taste that is warm and again has that little hint of something nutty. As the mouth drains, the palate continues to develop with a warmth not just associated with the alcohol level (13%). This is where Italian producers really stake a claim at the art of making wine that is both a food of its own but also a perfect accompaniment for food. In this case, this wine would sit very well alongside any pasta or carbohydrate-based Italian dish, and it has enough weight and warmth to please those who insist they only enjoy red wines.
Tenuta Ulisse have several wines on sale through The Secret Cellar, for those interested in further exploration, and the Cococciola is well worth tasting for those who enjoy the Pecorino, but for my £11.99 the Pecorino is the real gem in this week’s tasting.