Torontonians can celebrate!
Central Italy is a mountainous area with fascinating, high quality food and wines yet due to the cost of transport and import restrictions seldom do these unique products reach the Canadian market where they would be greatly appreciated.
Now this is changing...
Often when we buy wines from Italy we imagine we are drinking Italian wine. We forget that almost all wines in Italy, like France, were destroyed in the late 1890s by phylloxera. This devasting disease came in the form of a microscopic louse that ate the roots of the vines and despite every attempt to prevent its spreading, almost all Italian vines were destroyed. The wines we drink now are the result of grafting European grapevines onto American rootstocks.
Many people claim wines from pre-phylloxera vineyards were decidedly superior to the grafted vines we have today.
Can we ever taste a real Italian wine?
Luckily a few vines were spared the phylloxera plague. These vines were growing in isolated places -- like mountain locations. Indeed mountains are famous for being biodiversity banks that store our history, the world over.
In the small mountain village of Arquata del Tronto, on the slopes of the Sibillini Mountains, in Central Italy an ancient heritage vine called 'Pecorino' was on the point of extinction. In 1982 this autochthonous vine was tracked down and rediscovered in its mountain abode by some wine experts, including Guido Grifoni.
He returned to make the first grafts from these vines. At this time no one was producing this heritage vine as a single varietal for sale.
Then came decades of experimentation, growing the vines with different geographical exposures, about 40 km away from the original site in Grifoni's vineyards. During this time the commercial production of Pecorino was exclusively from this Tenuta Cocci Grifoni vineyard.
The end result is a white wine that is light, with a hint of fruit, but also full of body and rich complexity.
Now good sales, plus the unique characteristics of the grape have inspired other Italian companies to start growing and selling the Pecorino.
A new book devoted to the Pecorino has just been published in English and includes great recipes to accompany your Pecorino.
The name, Pecorino, is a bit strange even in Italian because it is the name of a sheep cheese produced in these same mountains. This grape grew in the mountains where the sheep grazed and because the sheep love to eat these grapes, in dialect it was called 'lu Pecuri' or the Pecorino.
Canadians can try this niche market, real Italian wine by going to The Vine Agency at 625 Queen St. East #105 Toronto http://thevineagency.ca/ You can call them at 416 693 7994 or simply email: Wine@thevineagency.ca
Lets raise a glass to biodiversity in mountains!
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