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A Terrific Bianco from Italy's Adriatic Side
By Mary Ewing-Mulligan
Sep 24, 2013
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La Valentina, Colline Pescarese IGT (Abruzzo, Italy) Bianco Pecorino 2012 (Dalla Terra, $16):  You could have made a comedy skit out of the conversations in my home involving this wine, Pecorino, and our inadvertent confusions with the cheese, Pecorino.  Noticing the other’s confusion, each of us on separate occasions baited our spouse (“How could you fit it in the cheese tray?!) until he or she realized: “Oh -- Pecorino, the wine!”

Pecorino, the wine, comes from the Pecorino grape, a white variety thought to be native to the Marche region of Italy, just north of Abruzzo, and grown today in scattered zones within several wine regions of Central Italy.  The grape makes wines that are dry and generally un-oaked, with minerally, herbal or fruity aromas and flavors.

The producer of this Pecorino wine is La Valentina, a respected family winery founded in 1990 during the early days of the modern evolution of the Abruzzo region, on Italy’s Adriatic coast.  During that period, Abruzzo moved away from its roots as a largely co-operative driven area making inexpensive high-volume wines and it became a region that today boasts numerous quality wines from artisan producers.  As is the norm in Abruzzo, La Valentina’s production focuses on red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and includes white Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.  Pecorino is La Valentina’s other white, generally less known than Trebbiano d’Abruzzo but increasingly popular among sommeliers and adventuresome wine drinkers.

I love this wine because it is complex in personality -- not a single-statement wine but one that reveals itself to you slowly.  The first thing you might notice is the rich, viscous, “oily” texture, which is an interesting contrast to the wine’s dryness.  And then you notice that the wine’s crisp acidity cuts through the texture, making the texture seem all the richer in comparison but without any heaviness.  You might have smelled minerally notes in the background of the wine’s aroma -- with ripe lemon, floral notes and wild-herb accents -- and in your mouth those minerally notes ground the wine on your tongue.  You taste ripe lemon and peach, fruit skin and fruit stones, all in the context of the wine’s dryness and rich texture.  In more orthodox terms, this is a full-bodied, dry, richly textured white with concentrated aromas and flavors that include fruit, floral, herbal and mineral.

The production of this wine involves no oak.  Skin contact before fermentation enhances the complexity of aroma and flavor, and lees-aging enhances the wine’s richness and weight.

I’m sure this wine will be just as enjoyable in another year, but I like it now, fresh and yet improbably commanding.  It’s great with a lemon-dressed arugula and parmesan salad, and I would also serve it with fish of any sort, white clam pizza, or dishes with fresh mushrooms.  But leave Pecorino, the cheese, for another time; its flavor is too strong for Pecorino, the wine.

91 Points