Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Grape of the Sheep with Umani Ronchi Pecorino

I love when we have months where our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group focuses on the autochthonous, or indigenous, grapes that are lesser known to the average consumer.  Even though it can be a challenge to seek one out it gives you a perspective on everything a region has to offer than those that are just commonplace in the market.  Especially with this month’s feature of the pecorino grape as this was one an almost extinct varietal, but has so much to share with our white wine lovers.   

Pecorino is a grape that hails from the Abruzzo and neighboring Le Marche wine regions.  The producer I tried, Umani Ronchi, produces wines in both of these countries.  Pecorino is not the shining star when it comes to white wines in these regions as verdicchio in my opinion runs the show, but definitely holds a place in the running.  As I write this it’s eating my soul that I had an opportunity to take a press trip and tour this region this month and really discover more of this grape and understand Abruzzo’s terroir, but my 2 little ones need me and unfortunately had to postpone until a later time. 

The Winery ~ Umani Ronchi
Umani Ronchi is owned and operated today by the Bianchi-Bernetti family and is run by Michele Bernetti overseen by his father, Massimo.  It originally started by in the 50’s when Gino Umani Ronchi started a farm in the Cupramontana of the Le Marche.  The Bianchi-Bernetti family then took the estate over a few years later.  Massimo was the visionary and driving force behind developing Umani Ronchi in a number of ways when he was later joined by his son in the 90’s.  The recognitions they have received over the years and their partnership with Giacomo Tachis focusing on international varieties with their Pelago wine help put them on the map across the wine world. 

With over 500 acres of vineyards, the winery has doubled its land under vines from the 70’s and has replanted over 85% of their vines.  They have 10 vineyard sites spread amongst Abruzzo (near Teramo) and Conero and Castelli di Jesi in Le Marche with 3 winemaking facilities.  Speaking of recent talks of organics and biodynamics, Umani Ronchi also practices organic farming practices throughout all of their vineyards as well as practices taken to be sustainable.   
Umani Ronchi wines of Abruzzo and Le Marche
Copyright of Umani Ronchi
2017 Umani Ronchi Terre di Chieti Velladoro Pecorino IGT 
The sheep on the label represents the pecorino grape since the word stems from the word pecora, meaning sheep.  This wine is grown in Monti Pagano of Abruzzo that overlooks the Gran Sasso mountains.  It is 100% hand picked pecorino.  Umani Ronchi began a project working with the pecorino grape that was almost extinct in 2005 releasing its first vintage in 2007.  The pecorino grape is only a small percentage, about 5 acres, of Umani Ronchi’s total production.   
Monti Pagano Umani Ronchi wine
Monti Pagano ~ Copyright of Umani Ronchi
This wine is straw colored with floral aromatics and citrus.  This wine was quite impressive available at only $10.  A clean, refreshing wine with bright acidity, nice flavors of apples and pineapple. Even though it was light bodied there was plenty of enjoyment all around.  The wine finished with nice salinity reminiscent of the nearby Adriatic Sea. 
2017 Umani Ronchi Velladoro Pecorino
The fact that Umani Ronchi is reinvigorating the pecorino grape from extinction while continuing to advance their winery both inside their facilities and practicing organic winemaking as well as a focus on quality shows their determination to represent what Abruzzo and Le Marche wines can and should be. Well exported to over 60 countries producing 2.9 million bottles this is no small establishment and if this wine is only a fraction  of what they produce and not even their flagship wine I’m intrigued to try more. 

Lots more pecorino to be explored with my fellow wine and food lovers.  Join us live Saturday May 4th on Twitter at 11am EST #ItalianFWT to chat more about pecorino and learn all about this unique native grape of Abruzzo and Le Marche.

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will dazzle us with “Oven-Roasted Trout with Citrus Salsa Crudo + 2017 Lunaria “Civitas” Pecorino”
Gwendolyn, the Wine Predator is “Pairing Pecorino d’Abuzzo from Ferzo: Lemon Caper Shrimp #ItalianFWT”
Cindy at Grape Experiences does a “Twirl. Sip. Savor: 2016 Tenuta Cocci Grifoni Offida Pecorino Colle Vecchio and Creamy Garlic Shrimp with Linguini”
Lauren at The Swirling Dervish asks “Looking for a New White Wine to Serve this Spring? Try Pecorino from Tenuta Santori in Italy!”
Linda at My Full Wine Glass shares “Sheepish about new kinds of wine? Try Pecorino! #ItalianFWT”.
Susannah from Avvinare shares “Pecorino from the Lady from Le Marche – Angela Velenosi- Velenosi Vini”
Jeff at Food Wine Click goes “On the Hunt for the Pecorino Grape”
Steven from Steven’s Wine and Food Blog cooks up a “Brodetto di Pesce Wine Pairing #ItalianFWT”.
Katarina at Grapevine Adventures discusses “Le Marche & Abruzzo – Two Regions… Two Expressions of Pecorino”
David from Cooking Chat shares “Roasted Asparagus Pasta with Pecorino”
Kevin from Snarky writes "Pecorino - Welcome to the Fold"
At Savor the Harvest, our host Lynn is “Discovering the Pecorino Grape #ItalianFWT”



  1. Wow, that's a lot of wine for $10! Also appreciated the background on Le Marche and Abruzzo - would love to visit there one day.

  2. What a great story - and that wine looks incredible! Yet another Pecorino I have to find! Cheers!

  3. I love to see that even wineries with large holdings maintain a commitment to reinvigorating autochthonous grapes. Good looking wine!

  4. I agree, what a buy at $10! You'll get to Abruzzo one of these days I'm sure!