Posted by: tomciocco | February 1, 2012

PASSERINA: A WHITE LIKE A LITTLE SPARROW

Loosely translated, the noun, or rather proper noun “Passerina” in Italian means “little sparrow”. And indeed the more you get to know this charming grape, the more  you begin to understand how well the moniker suits the vine to which it’s applied, but first a little back ground on this rare bird…

Passerina’s “heartland”, if such a thing could be said to actually exist, is in southern Marche, but a fair number of patches and pockets of  the vine grow in vineyards scattered around northeastern Lazio, and northern Abruzzo as well. Despite the grape being fairly geographically diffuse, and apparently with roots reaching back into antiquity, Passerina cedes space to  bigger “birds” like Verdicchio in Marche and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (A.K.A. Bombino Bianco) in Abruzzo, in terms of acreage, as well as in terms of size and flavor in the glass. So that once again brings us back to this grape’s apt and expressive name. A sparrow is indisputably a tiny bird, but it’s also a hardy, lively, quick creature, with a nimble grace that allows it to make a place for itself in the world…you can complete the analogy…

I’ll be honest with you, you’re not likely to turn up a Passerina at your local  Incomparable All-Wine Galaxy and Emporium, and because it doesn’t age particularly well, when bottles of Passerina do occasionally turn up, they’re often too long in the tooth because no one knew what a great little wine it was when it was a great little wine (drink them within 2 years of their vintage)…I’m very happy to report that this particular little sparrow really took flight.

As you might infer, this is a wine that is best introduced either earlier in the meal with appetizers or first courses (especially fish-based) or with an overall milder menu, so tonight that menu consisted of farfalle pasta with a seafood tomato cream sauce, and then a three cheese (ricotta salata, scamorza, and Parmigiano Reggiano) and broccoli frittata with some toasted bread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Murola Passerina Marche IGT 2010 

Slightly greenish, pale white gold color. Pretty but subtlely sassy nose of cooked grain, apricot jam, white pepper, citrus peel, hazelnut, and dried white flowers. The wine’s entry on the palate is fresh and lively, but with a clean, corpulent rich texture, and complex and evolving flavors of woody herbs, pear, yellow cherry nectar, minerals, and  quinine. Pretty, lingering flavors of peach pit and caramel flan on the finish. 

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