You probably know Pecorino cheese, but do you know Pecorino wine? This ancient varietal takes its name from a legendary association with the pastoral traditions of the Piceni, the Italic peoples inhabiting the area named Picenum (Piceno) by the Romans, present-day Marche. During transhumance, shepherds observed that the mature grape was particularly appealing to their flocks, thus earning the grape its quaint nickname, Pecorino (pecore = sheep).
Unproductive Pecorino was all but abandoned over the centuries, until in the 1980s it was rediscovered and revived by sommelier Teodoro Bugari and producer Guido Cocci Grifoni. In 2009, Cocci Grifoni and the Polytechnic University of Le Marche and Ancona published a book about the experience, aptly titled La Riscoperta del Pecorino, storia di un vitigno e di un vino (‘The Rediscovery of Pecorino: History of a Varietal and a Wine’).
This early-maturing grape variety needs a coastal climate with some northern exposure. It is produced in the province of Ascoli Piceno, in the hills around Rotella and Offida between the Adriatic sea and Apennine mountains—the hills where two millennia ago it tempted those migrating, peckish pecore. It received DOCG status in 2001.
You can learn a lot from a wine label, right?