Thursday, May 18, 2023

All about the Passerina grape

Before I venture off to the Abruzzo region next week on Vino Travels featuring a variety of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo I wanted to cover a lesser discussed white grape from the Marche region called Passerina. It’s overshadowed somewhat by Verdicchio when it comes to white grapes in the Marche so we’re going to show this grape some love this week. 

The Grape – Passerina 

Passerina is an ancient native grape found primarily in the Marche region of Central Italy, but is also produced in nearby Abruzzo, Lazio and Emilia Romagna to the north. The name Passerina comes from the Italian word, passero, meaning sparrow from the cardinal family. This grape was named after these birds due to the unfortunate circumstance that these birds love snacking on these grapes. Not so great for the wine growers. The suffix, -ina, means smaller referring to the smaller size of these grapes.  

passerina grapes
Sourced from wine searcher

The Passerina grapes have thick skins and lead high sugars in the fruit along with high acidity. They’re a hearty grape that can endure wine growing challenges and they also produce higher yields. They have very floral and fruit driven aromatics and produce wines with ripe citrus fruits along with stone fruits, tropical and some herbal notes. They are dry, clean and fresh that are best enjoyed in their youth. You’ll find the Passerina in the Marche region have a sharper acidity and minerality where those found in Lazio tend to be more rich, ripe and a creamier texture. 

The appellation – Offida Passerina DOCG 

One appellation to note in which to find some of the best expressions of this grape is the Offida Passerina DOCG in the Marche region. This appellation is located in the southeastern corner of the Marche region close to the Adriatic Sea in the Ascoli Piceno province. It is named after the town of Office that is situated in the center of this territory amongst the Tesino and Tronto River valleys. Although this appellation does also produce Montepulciano and Pecorino it is most noted for it’s wines made from Passerina. 

The wines under the Offida Passerina DOCG must be produced from 85-100% Passerina grapes with up to 15% other local non aromatic grapes. Most producers you will find are producing these wines with 100% Passerina. This appellation originally was under the Rosso Piceno DOC established in 2001, but was separated to its own appellation known as the Offida Passerina DOCG in 2011. 

Although I don’t have a particular Passerina to share with you today I encourage you to venture out to seek out some Passerina to experience it for yourself.  

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