A blog devoted to exploring wines made from unusual grape varieties and/or grown in unfamiliar regions all over the world. All wines are purchased by me from shops in the Boston metro area or directly from wineries that I have visited. If a reviewed bottle is a free sample, that fact is acknowledged prior to the bottle's review. I do not receive any compensation from any of the wineries, wine shops or companies that I mention on the blog.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Cococciola - Terre de Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy
I started, as I usually do, with the Oxford Companion to Wine, whose entry on the grape reads in full "white wine variety native to the Abruzzo where it is blended with Trebbiano." Lettie Teague at the Wall Street Journal wrote about Cococciola back in 2010, but her entire blog post only runs to two paragraphs, only one sentence of which actually contains any informational content ("Cococciola is a grape grown in the Abruzzi region of Italy (in the province of Terre di Chieti) where it produces a pleasingly crisp, slightly grassy white that’s a wonderful aperitif and a perfect summer drink"). There's a handful of brief blog posts more or less in that vein scattered across the internet that you can Google at your leisure, but pretty much none of them go any deeper than the two quotes above.
The most in-depth treatment of Cococciola comes from Wine Grapes, but even their coverage is pretty sparse. The "Origins and Parentage" section is a single sentence, which reads in full "The origins of this variety and of its strange name are unclear and its earliest mention seems to be in Viala and Vermorel's Ampélographie (1901-1910) under the synonym Cacciola." Though I've been able to track down a few volumes of the Ampélographie online, I haven't found the volume (there are 7 in total) that mentions Cacciola and since I don't have thousands of dollars to spend on a copy for myself, I can't report what that book has to say about the grape. Wine Grapes goes on to say that Cococciola is mostly planted in Abruzzo and northern Puglia where it was traditionally used as a very minor blending component with Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (thanks largely to its high yields), though it is being used more these days to make varietal wines. As of 2000, there were shockingly 893 hectares (2,207 acres) under vine in Italy, which is much higher than I would have expected.
Panzano Proviste. In the glass the wine was a pale silvery lemon color. The nose was moderately intense with subtle aromas of lemon, apricot, green apple and white flowers. On the palate the wine was medium bodied with fairly high acidity. There were tart, racy flavors of lemon and green apple with a touch of apricot and pear and a lovely stony mineral finish. I found the wine bright and sharp with really lively acidity, but there were also nice round stone fruit flavors that kept this from being too austere. I thoroughly enjoyed drinking it and am glad that I gave it a shot, even if it has been unpleasant to try and post about. I guess it just goes to show that a grape doesn't have to be interesting in order for the wine to be good. This is definitely a grape to try if you happen to run across it in your local shop.