Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Grecanico. Whoa.

I know Boo doesn't believe me one iota when I say that I really have been trying to keep my wine purchases under control.  After all, I don't think it shows a lack of self control to buy a little something when you visit the actual winery.  Or when it's the release of a stellar Bordeaux vintage (especially when he loves Cab).  Or when you run across a bottle of a grape varietal that you've never seen or heard of before.

So, the last one might be a tad hard for Boo to swallow but, for me, it really is a stellar reason to buy.

And such was the case with tonight's wine.

1269.  2010 Mare Magnum - Il Nostro Grecanico (Sicily IGT - Italy)

When I first saw this bottle, I thought it was the Graciano varietal - rare enough in itself - but seeing that it was Grecanico had me reaching for my wallet.  Particularly since I was pretty sure that I had a new varietal to add to my Wine Century Club tally.

The hurdle I had to get over was whether Grecanico is just a Sicilian name for Chardonnay or Riesling. I've been burned by that on more than a couple occasions.  As it turns out, DNA studies have confirmed that the Grecanico grape is identical to Garganega - the grape used as the backbone in the production of Soave up in the Veneto region of Northern Italy.  Heavy sigh. I definitely know that I've swigged back more than a couple glasses of Soave in my day.  With that news, my new number was questionable.  Luck would have it that I just haven't reached for Soave recently - at least not since I started keeping track of my WCC grapes (when i started this blog).  #138 here I come.

Il Nostro is one of many labels produced by the Mare Magnum conglomerate, a relatively new wine company created with a plan to produce value-based wines throughout various Italian regions. It also collaborates on a handful of international projects in "places as diverse as France, Spain, South America, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa."  The Il Nostro label is one of three that Mare Magnum produces from Sicily.

A little Google reveals that the Grecanico grape is known for its acidity and a tendancy to be very vigorous.  When that vigour isn't reined in, the resulting wines can be rather thin and neutral.  I don't think that over-production was a problem here; there was plenty of body to the wine.  I can't say that I found much fruit on the palate though.  Acid, yes.  Minerality, yes.  But I didn't find the green apple with hints of vanilla and pear mentioned on the website.

On the whole, I'm not the biggest fan of Italian white wines.  Give me a big red from Tuscany, Piedmont or the Veneto any day, but I could see a place for the Grecanico on a hot summer day with a whopping helping of calamari.  Then again, I could be happy drinking most anything with calamari on a hot summer day.

In the mean time, no regrets.  A new varietal is always a treat in itself - even if Boo does throw me a stink eye when I bring a new bottle home.

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