You learn something new every day it seems. This week I learned about an Italian wine grape called Pecarino which has nothing in common with the Pecarino cheese except I am told they go well together. I learned about Pecarino wine by way of a vendor tasting here last week. There were three Italian whites in the lineup and the Pecarino was clearly the winner as far as I was concerned. It was straw-yellow in color, floral in the nose, and minerally and fruity yet dry to the taste, which brings us to what is wrong with Italian white wines in general.
First of all let me say that Italian white wines are some of the finest white wines on earth; fine, being the operative term here. You talk about subtlety and nuance! Treat these wines with the utmost respect. Serve these wines on your finest platter before dinner! What's wrong with Italian whites, with all humility, is there are so many that are so similar (in that fine sort of way) that the poor retailer can't stock them all for a wine-buying public that is not yet ready for that degree of fineness (finesse).
Compounding this logjam of delicacy is the fact that the Pinot Grigio category is way too successful. It surpassed Chardonnay in sales in this store long ago. It's hard to get around that sales monster to offer the legions of others that no one has ever heard of, wines that are much more European in style than the Pinots that are shipped here. Their lightly acidic structure frankly yields a winier flavored product in contrast with the forward cocktail pinots we like so much. These alternative Italian whites really need a table setting with seafood entrees and sauces to show their potential.
Pecarino also has a great story behind it. The name comes from the culinary habits of the sheep in Central Italy. Pecarino means "little sheep" and those guys apparently loved to dine on the sweet wild grapes of the region to the point where the low yielding Pecarino grapevines have had to be propagated back to commercial viability from near extinction. That effort was begun in the 1980's and now yields the high quality dinner wine we have in the store now.
Please join us at 5pm Thursday the 15th for a tasting of Italian wines. Brian Espaniol leads us in a tasting of one Pinot Grigio and three blended reds. Not coincidentally Italian cheeses will be on the table!