Our Current Wine of the Month:
Terra Del Principe – Pallagrello Bianco; Italy; 2011
The 2011 vintage was picked between early August and September by hand. From there they are processed by a soft crushing and pressing, fermentation in stainless steel with a temperature range between 57-59° F. The wine then stays on noble lees for 6 months. The 2011 was a tough year. It was generally smooth until mid-August through the last two weeks of the month with scorching temperatures, to be remembered as perhaps the warmest of the last years in memory. After mid-August temperatures, and were accompanied by hot dry winds, which overheated the grapes. Harvest, therefore, was advanced to avoid early maturation. The wine is light straw-yellow in color. On the nose there are notes of fresh fruit, apples, pineapple, and melon. To the taste the wine is balanced between freshness and softness, with a good minerality, persistently aromatic flavors, and a long finish of dried apricots. Food for this bottle can cover baked oysters with a ground red pepper, parmesan and breadcrumb topping, to fresh buffalo mozzarella, and even sautéed mushrooms with fresh herbs.
Since this is such a new bottle to The Rack House KWW, I wanted to take a moment and give a little more history on the grape itself since it is such a unique offering, especially given the vintage. This will be joining a few other new bottles on September 12th, as we turn over yet another page in adding new wines. Pallagrello Bianco is a much-loved, yet almost extinct, green-skinned grape variety thought to have originated in Campania, Italy, or possibly ancient Greece. Like its black-skinned sibling, Pallagrello Nero, it was thought to have been wiped out due to phylloxera, a powdery mildew. During the following “forgotten era”, Pallagrello Bianco was mistaken for another grape, Coda di Volpe. However, its true identity was rediscovered in the 1990s by Italian vine grower and former lawyer Peppe Mancini, who has since replanted it and the nero variant.
In the 18th Century, when the royal House of Bourbon ruled Naples and Sicily, Pallagrello Bianco became a favorite of King Ferdinand IV. He set aside a place for the grape in his famous Vigna del Ventaglio, or Fan (-shaped) Vineyard, which was reserved only for his favorite vines. Back then, the grape was revered for its ability to make vini buoni e serbevoli (high-quality and long-lasting wines) – a characteristic that is valued once again by modern-day producers.
Pallagrello Bianco vines produce small bunches of small berries. The grapes are high in sugar and low in acid. Locals traditionally dried some of them for use in their cakes and pastries because of these qualities. Wines produced from Pallagrello Bianco are rich, yet soft, with a wide range of aromas, from peach and apricot though to honey, wax and even almond and vanilla (when aged in oak). The wines tend to have a full and succulent feel in the mouth.
Pallagrello Bianco wines can be made and marketed as IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). This classification is frequently used when producers make wines from grapes not permitted in the higher DOC and DOCG classifications. Outside Campania, few producers, if any, grow Pallagrello Bianco.
Joshua French, Sommelier