Separating the Italian and the Balkan peninsulas, the turquoise and generally
calm waters of the Adriatic Sea lap up alluringly against the full length of Italy’s
eastern shore – from north of Venice to south of Brindisi. Roughly mid-way down,
20km or so inland of the balmy coast lies the town of Offida with its surrounding,
grape growing terroir. A part of Ascoli Piceno province, this is the southernmost
sub-region of Le Marche. Framed between the verdant foothills of the Apennine
mountains and the tempering influence of the sea, vintners are diligently tending
to a handful of resurgent, regionally distinctive, indigenous grape varieties and
finishing styles that range from the very dry through slightly sweeter, to frothy.
They also still proudly reference 1st-century writings by Roman historian and
naturalist, Pliny the Elder, who understatedly described Marche wines as being
generous. Well their red wines certainly are – but there’s also an array of novel
whites on offer here. Along with the stalwart grapes Verdicchio and Trebbiano
that flourish a little to the north, here in Piceno the various versions of Passerina
and Pecorino also have unique potential to impart nuanced and delicate layers
of flavour. The winemaking finesse shows itself in being able to deftly integrate
a fairly hefty 14% level of alcohol. Though at the very top end for dry white wine, somewhat elevated alcohol content reveals that fully ripe fruit was harvested
at its peak, generally providing the resulting wine with more body.
This week’s DéClassé featured Tenuta Messieri is a vintner deeply committed
to reviving the cultivation and varietal bottling of Pecorino. This grape variety,
offering low yields and primarily only used as a component in blended whites,
had fallen out of commercial favour and was near to extinction. With the vision
and daring by vintners to promote Pecorino as a stand-alone wine, it is now
being touted as one of the flagship varieties in the Offida DOC. Its strong suits
as a fragrant, fuller-bodied white with a sufficient counterbalance of acidity – is
finding an appreciative following and the necessary market.
I recommend you briskly walk past the familiar Pinot Grigio, Trebbiano, Soave and Verdicchio that’s largely available all year round, then dash with purpose toward
the time-limited, LCBO Vintages shelf-slot for this far more unusual and surprising
wine. It will hold up in your cellar for some time, so have no fear to buy enough
stock to see your dinner guests through the fall and deep into winter of 2016!
TENUTE MESSIERI VISIONI OFFIDA PECORINO 2012
VINTAGES – LCBO Product #414011| 750 mL bottle
Price $ 16.95
Sugar Content Descriptor: XD
Made in: Marche, Italy
By: Cocci Grifoni
Release Date: July 25, 2015
This medium-bodied, straw-yellow wine imparts a range of soft floral aromas
with melon, peach and restrained, tropical fruit flavours. Try this with poultry,
fresh fish, or as a classic pairing with Fava beans and shaved Pecorino cheese.