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Well-balanced full-flavoured and food-friendly dry Italian white. Rocco Pasetti was one of the very first to champion the excellent Abruzzo white grape pecorino, and he's become a bit of an expert. This delicious example has deservedly gained a considerable following at The Wine Society.
Product Code: QVT-IT29292
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Rocco Pasetti is one of the most dynamic and talented producers we know and a great champion of wines of the Abruzzo. He was for many years the chief winemaker of the Roxan cooperative and one of the reasons we chose their Montepulciano as a Society wine. More recently he bought his own estate, Vigna Corvino, with 30 hectares outside Pescara, planted with montepulciano and the local white grape pecorino. He also created his own model winery in the centre of the vines. These are planted on gentle hills between the Appennini mountains and the Adriatic sea – at 250 metres above sea level – with moderate rainfall and clay soils, which produce fragrant, rich wines. Rocco has abandoned weed killers and pesticides in favour of more natural methods.The cellar was completed in 2004 and is carved into the hillside. As well as temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks, the winery boasts a barrel room filled with Slavonian oak barrels.Rocco, his wife Patrizia, sons Franco and Ugo and daughter Perla have frequently visited and met members at our Italian tastings. Contesa means ‘quarrel’ in Italian and is a nod back to Rocco’s winemaking great grandfather, who fought a hard battle with a local landowner to preserve his own vineyards back in 1903.
In ancient times this was the main source of high-quality wines from the peninsula of Italy The Greeks had introduced viniculture through their colonies there and named the bottom half of the peninsula ‘Oenotrai’ or land of wine, and the Romans expanded on the tradition, particularly in the Campania where many wealthy citizens owned vast estates and some of the most famous wines of the empire were made, such as Falernum. Some grape names appear to reflect the Greco-Roman influence (greco, aglianico), though this may be more about folk-memory than fact as there is no ampelographical evidence linking these varieties to any Greek ancient forbears. Campania itself is the area around Naples and Mount Vesuvius. Naturally there are volcanic soils in the vicinity and as the vineyards climb the Apennines there is altitude to cool the grapes as they ripen. As such there is a balancing freshness to the fruity wines. Greco di Tufo, fiano (especially from Avellino) and falanghina are among the best white wines, characterful and perfumed. Of the red varieties it is aglianico that makes the most impressive examples on the volcanic soils of Taurasi, though there is potential promised and realized in other varieties like piedirosso. There are excellent aglianico wines from Basilicata, the once impoverished region on the instep of the Italian boot. Inland on the border with Puglia, round the extinct volcano of Monte Vulture, the aglianico grape performs admirably to produce powerful ageworthy red wines that retain a thread of finesse. Calabria is the toe of the boot, and another region of limited economic development in recent decades. From one end of the province to the other mountains form a spine and, unlike in Campania, the vineyards producing the best wines are on the flat. In particular the DOC of Cirò on the Gulf of Taranto in the east of the province produces perfumed red wines from the indigenous gaglioppo grape.Across the Apennines on the Adriatic coast lies Puglia, a region that has begun to overcome a longstanding reputation for producing wines for bulk export but is now producing a range of fascinating good-value red wines from varieties like negroamaro, primitivo (aka zinfandel in California) and uva di troia. In the right hands all of them are capable of making very fine wines with plenty of ripe fruit, concentration and structure but without the overpowering alcohols that a hot climate and indifferent winemaking once routinely produced. They are also often excellent value. Puglia is largely flat, almost table-like lacking the softening effects of altitude must rely on the air conditioning of the sea and the skill of the winemaker to make balanced wines. Vines are consistently bush trained to retain shade and moisture. The best wines come from the Salento peninsula where the sea is on three sides and the best producers reside. Full-bodied negroamaro from Brindisi and Copertino and primitivo from soils underpinned by limestone in Manduria can be excellent Whites tend to be greco, fiano and minutolo, and there are some well-flavoured rosé wines as a speciality of the region. Whites too are now catching up in quality.Sicily has shown itself to be one of the most forward thinking Italian regions in recent years, with an awakening pride in the quality that can be achieved on this hot, socially complex and culturally saturated island. Sicily was once famous for the fortified Marsala wines that Nelson bought to victual his Mediterranean fleet, but as this fame and the sales that went with it dwindled many producers recognised that there was a need to produce table wines of greater quality. Bulk wine still leaves the island in tankers but there has been something of a revolution in viticulture and viniculture and Sicily now produces some of Italy’s best and most interesting wines. Nero d’Avola has been a conspicuous success, and makes everything from fruity entry-level reds to powerful, ripe and structured reds that can age and is often a major component in high-quality blends with syrah, cabernet and merlot. Mount Etna is a source of fine reds and whites of depth, finesse and zest, grown on the slopes of the famous volcano. Altitude and volcanic soils provide excellent conditions for the local nerello mascalese, nerello cappuccio and carricante (a white grape) vines. The white former mainstays of Marsala production cataratto and grillo are being given their head by winemakers who want them to shine alone and shine they do. Finally there has been a renaissance of interest in the intense, sweet muscat wines of the island of Pantelleria, an island closer to Tunisia than Sicily.Sardinia, until 1708 a Spanish possession, grows several vines that reflect an Iberian heritage. Graciano and mazuelo grow here as bovale sardo and boval grande respectively. Cannonau is grenache/garnacha by another less Spanish name. The grape that the island has exported to other parts is vermentino from which its finest, aromatic and flavoursome whites are made. Mazuelo, better known as carignan, makes the islands best reds called carignano del Sulcis.
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"Decent all-rounder Italian for a quiet weekday night"
Mr Paul Emery (03-Nov-2019)
The Guardian (17th Aug 2019)
"...a delicious one … Fiona Beckett"
JancisRobinson.com (21st May 2019)
"Steely nose with neutral fruit, followed by a
much more precise grapefruit and green-apple character on the palate. Vibrant
acidity, full body and a lemon-sherbet character to finish. - Richard Hemming"
"This is a superb Pecorino for the money. Everyone I have given this wine to loves it too. It fresh with honey, good length a superb mouthful."
Mr Craig Edwards (22-Oct-2018)
Mr Richard Simon (13-Jun-2017)
"This is a slightly unusual wine which can readily be drunk by itself or probably with most light foods. Pleasant enough though not exceptional. On balance I think that it is worth trying and deserves to be recommended.
Neil Butter Esq (17-Jul-2016)
"Drank this wine on its own and very much enjoyed it. Dry, medium bodied, medium acidity with bold melon/citrus flavours that linger on the palate. I imagine it would go well with a variety of fish, chicken and even pork dishes."
Dr Brian Carr (25-Jun-2016)
"I enjoyed this Contesa a lot. It was first sent into action to accompany a roast chicken Sunday lunch and performed with great distinction. Not too heavy, nor too acidic, but still crisp and fresh, and enough flavour to be very enjoyable but not so loaded as to overwhelm the palate. I could imagine drinking this by itself, preferably outside in the sunshine, which means I'm going to have to wait six months or so to put it to the test. This is a good value buy."
Mr Niels Aalen (07-Dec-2014)
"I first came across Pecorino at a vineyard up in the hills inland from Pescara back in 2007 so I was delighted when it appeared in the WS wine list. Nice as Gavi la Battistina is it cannot compete with this wine, which is more complex with a longer finish. I think this wine is a very good Italian wine and I hope WS will soon stock it again in full bottles."
Mr Bill George (22-Dec-2013)
Sunday Express (5th May 2013)
"This nicely packaged Italian white is made from the recently rediscovered pecorino grape. It offers pure, fresh, lively pear and citrus fruit with a touch of herbiness. A versatile all-rounder, it is particularly food-friendly. - Jamie Goode"
"Reminded me of a muted viognier. Nose originally gave pink grapefruit but in the mouth there was more peach, lychee and for acidity a touch of passion fruit. Very pleasant with smoked salmon!"
Mr Nigel Corrigan (05-Jan-2013)
"Quirky wine but what a gem. Half bottles - just right. Excellent with anything Italian!"
Mr Ian Engall (08-Aug-2012)
"This makes for a very pleasant 'aperitif', to go with antipasti. My ageing tastebuds find it practically indistinguishable from the more expensive Grechetto from Barberani."
Mr Timothy Appelbee (29-Jul-2012)
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