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Managing editor Kim Marcus joined Wine Spectator in 1988. His tasting beats include Austria, Greece, southern France and Portugal.
Kim Marcus

A Minerally Italian White for Warm Summer Days

Gran Sasso Pecorino Terre di Chiete 2010

Kim Marcus
Posted: July 19, 2011

OK, I admit it. I sometimes buy wines based on whether they have interesting labels. I’m sure wine marketers bank on this in constructing strategies to sell wine to American consumers overwhelmed by thousands of brands. No harm in standing out from the crowd, all else being equal.

But rather than picking out labels with strange animals or iridescent colors, I look for unusual grapes or regions. So it was that I stumbled upon a Pecorino in my local wine shop. “Pecorino, isn’t that the name of an Italian sheep cheese?” I thought. “Would I get cheesy flavors?” It didn’t seem initially enticing, but I took the plunge based on the advice of the wine shop owner.

Pecorino is an Italian white grape variety that was thought to be long lost until vines were found growing in a ravine in the Marche region. The wine has been brought back to life by vintners and growers, especially those in the Abruzzo region, a mountainous district in central Italy.

This wine is crisp yet unctuous, showing a mix of mineral, almond and ripe citrus flavors, with hints of white pepper on the finish. It is fresh and medium-bodied—a good combination for either pleasant sipping or as an accompaniment for fish, shellfish or even roasted poultry. I rated it 88 points, non-blind, and it costs $15 a bottle. And the name? Well, pecora means “sheep” in Italian. In days of yore, the beasts especially favored the vines during their grazing sorties.

WineSpectator.com members: Get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Italian whites.

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