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

Cococciola is the kind of grape that makes me hate writing.  That sounds a little harsh, I know, but I remember being so excited when I came across it in a local Italian wine shop since it was something completely new and different to me, which is no small feat these days.  I naturally bought the wine and opened it almost right away.  I enjoyed it quite a bit and immediately starting trying to find more information on it for a post here.   After I drank it, I started to see a few email offers for wines made from the Cococciola grape and saw a few pieces online about it, but when I tried to really dig in and find enough good information to fill out an entire blog post, I just wasn't getting anywhere.  There is virtually no mention of Cococciola in any of the academic databases I usually use and the few references in books and online that I have been able to track down rarely have more than a sentence or two of vague, generic boilerplate information that hardly seems like it is worth reporting.  I keep looking for a story with Cococciola and I think that the best story that I've been able to find is that there really isn't much of a story to Cococciola at all.  So I finally decided to just give up on researching this grape and will just present the little bit of information that I was able to find and get to the tasting note as quickly as possible.

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.

The wine that I was able to find was the 2010 Cantina Frentana Cococciola from the Terre di Chieti area of Abruzzo, which i picked up for around $19 from 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.


Unknown said...

Can you pronounce this for us?


Rob Tebeau said...


I think.