Pecorino wine? Isn’t Pecorino a cheese?

Published by nakedwinesdotcom - 3rd Nov 2015

Our customers made us promise to find more hidden gems for our Angels, special wines that are a bit off the beaten path and taste like a hundred bucks.

And one of them is about to be released: it’s a Pecorino.

Firstly, we’re sure it’s not cheese

pecora sheep explains pecorino is not just cheese

Pecora means sheep in Italian. Pecorino can be cheese OR wine – photo: Jackhynes

Pecorino is a wine grape too. Every single person we’ve spoken to has asked us if we’re confused, or mispronouncing the grape, or just off our rockers.

And who can blame them? You should have seen my face when Matt Parish first came back from tasting wines in Italy (tough life, right?) and said he’d bought $70,000 of Pecorino.

We were worried he’d had a heat stroke or something. But once he explained that he had found a delicious unknown grape (and convinced us that he didn’t just buy a boatload of expensive cheese) we started getting very excited.

Pecorino is a perfect Naked story

You’ll love this wine because:

  • The best wines come from passionate winemakers with the freedom to make what they love
  • Quality is more important than marketing hype
  • Its obscurity is the result of humble roots, not elitist pricing

Only a winemaker would want to make Pecorino

If you ask a marketer what the best Italian wines are, they’ll talk about Chianti, Super Tuscans, Pinot Grigio and other high-profile recognizable wines. But we didn’t ask marketers – we asked a passionate winemaker.

pecorino bottle shot

Christian Patat Pecorino

Christian Patat knows that the thing he can make very well in Abruzzo is Pecorino. We looked at him kind of funny (still thought it was a cheese…), but he stuck to his guns and made an incredible wine.

When he showed us the amazing things that he could do with Pecorino, we jumped on it and you will too.

Pecorino is a high quality Italian grape, that nobody knows about

According to Jancis Robinson’s tome Wine Grapes, there were barely 87 hectares (215 acres) of Pecorino in Italy in the year 2000. This once popular indigenous grape variety was widely planted in Marche (eastern Italy) before the Super Tuscans and International varieties invaded the Italian peninsula.

Pecorino grapes get very ripe and crunchy (they’re supposedly named after the sheep who used to nibble on them in the Marche) and it lends itself well to dry wines with fresh, citrusy bouquet and a medium-bodied palate with a nice minerality. It’s top notch Italian white with a little more heft and gumption than Pinot Grigio.

In short, this grape is meant to grow in Italy and it produces a really high quality white that almost never leaves the country.

Traditional distribution channels outside of Italy have a hard time selling obscure grapes like Pecorino. So over time, winemakers rip out their cool indigenous vineyards and grow more “marketable” grapes instead. It makes the world a boring place.

But Naked Angels are always up for an interesting discovery. As a matter of fact, our customers made us promise to fund more obscure wines like this one. So here you go: Pecorino!

In Italy, wine is not an elitist snobbish thing

I just want to make a short side note that this is not about finding the hippest, weird-for-the-sake-of-weird grape we could find and feeling elitist because we know about a grape that nobody else knows.

In Italy, wines like Pecorino are an everyday drink for regular people. Pecorino never had a billion dollar marketing campaign to make it world famous. Plus it has to compete with a very popular cheese for its brand name. In short: this is an underdog.

And, like many Italian grapes, it plays a quiet role in the beautiful Mediterranean lifestyle. Christian Patat’s Pecorino, the wine our Angels funded, is a beautiful medium-bodied white with some real acidity.

It’s a solid aperitif white that you can drink by itself on a warm day. And it’s absolutely sublime with some pasta. My wife and I cooked up some shrimp pasta with basil, garlic and a homemade tomato sauce – a perfect marriage for this Pecorino. The acidity in the white meant it complemented the tomato sauce very well. It had powerful fruit and herbal aromatics that mixed in wonderfully with the fresh shrimp and sprigs of basil.

This is the kind of wine that makes a simple Trader Joe’s pasta dinner feel like a little trip to Italy.

christian patat winemaker

Christian Patat, winemaker

So go check out Christian Patat, our newest Italian winemaker. Follow him for updates about his wine projects and to get notifications when his wines come into stock. And enjoy some truly delicious Italian whites that couldn’t exist without you.

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