Pecorino is an obscure white wine grape variety which, as its pleasant name suggests, produces wines that are reminiscent of the spicy pecorino cheese. Pecorino is unique to the Marche and Abruzzo regions on Italy's east coast, although the current litany of clean and fresh styles suggest that careful viticulture at cool temperatures, would serve this versatile variety anywhere that seafood calls.

Pecorino's punchy minerality and zip increasingly rival Verdicchio's herbal tone, as the fashionable flavour of the coast. Clearly, its depth and aromatic complexities surpass that of the ubiquitous Trebbiano. However, Pecorino's plantings fail to make a dent in the sprawling hectarage of Verdicchio, which stretches from the Umbrian border through the DOC's of Matelica and Castelli di Jesi. Here, stony elevated vineyards, many calcareous, serve to produce wines of resonance and clarity.

Clearly, with more than 200,000 hectoliters of Verdiccho from these zones produced each year, Pecorino's stealthy appearance on the best wine lists of the region is little threat to Verdicchio's dominance. However, the largesse of Verdicchio's permitted yields at 13-14 tonnes per hectare infers lapse quality in many instances, making Pecorino attractive for the wise drinker.

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