Posted by: tomciocco | March 26, 2014

GRECO: IS IT GREEK TO YOU?

The purported origins of some grapes are often obscured by the myth fabricated by some large growers or merchants now lost to history wanted their buyers to think they were from. In latter years, there have been numerous such associations with France, presumably with the view to promote the notion that an association with a great winemaking nation such as France would give some extra heft to the claims made for the quality of the wines made from these varieties, and that these farmers or merchants were peddling. Varieties like the eastern European variety Blaufrankisch (“Blue French”) or Portugal’s Touriga Franca are two such examples, both of which have been determined almost unequivocally NOT to be French.

And prior to France being seen as the “it” place for grapes to be from, it was the cradle of the classical world, Greece. In Italy alone there is Grechetto, Greco Nero, Greco Bianco, as well as any number of other “Greco di (fill in the blank)” grapes, all or most of which as far as any current science can say, have absolutely no connection to Greece or whose Greek origins are simply one of several credible theories, and the the grape which makes up this evening’s wine, a Campanian grape typically and most fully called Greco di Tufo, is almost surely a victim of this misnomer.

According to research claims presented in Jancis Robinson’s great tome entitled “Wine Grapes”, there is precisely zero proven connection with Greco and any Greek grape variety currently growing anywhere in that nation, and in fact, according to the genetic mapping done on Greco di Tufo, it has been determined that it is identical to the very local variety Asprinia (endemic to the little Campanian town of Aversa) and very closely related to the light red-skinned, aromatic and oh-so-Italian variety Aleatico. Greece has plenty of really fine and incontrovertibly Greek wine grapes from which they make some really fine wines, but Greco di Tufo isn’t one of them, and it probably never was.

Greco is one of the great trinity of Campanian white grape varieties along with Fiano and Falanghina, and amongst the three, Greco is clearly the biggest and baddest: deeply colored, profoundly complex, and powerfully structured. And this particular example of Greco from the mountainous Taburno region directly follows suit.

So in keeping with the idea of matching like to like, I served this very expressive wine with a first course of pennoni with a cauliflower, green pepper, and tuna sauce, followed by eggs pan-poached with spinach, potatoes, shallots, shredded mozzarella and grated pecorino.

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Ocone Taburno Sannio Greco “Giano” 2012

Medium-deep coppery-gold color. Complex and powerful nose of apricot, muskmelon, yellow pomegranate juice, vanilla bean, wet stones, dried ginger, flint, toasted grains and iodine. The palate is full, dense, muscular, bold and powerful, with a pronounced and intense minerality, a piercing acidity and notably stiff structure that conveys deep flavors of peach nectar, quince, papaya, rosemary, oregano and cocoa butter. Strong, long and dry candied citron on the finish.

 

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