Even after nearly a half century of doing this, I still get a little giddy about wines that are off the main road. Pecorino is one of them. Like Ribolla Gialla, Manzoni and some of the others we've featured over the years, Pecorino is very rare indeed.
Pecorino from Abruzzo is even rarer. If you look up the grape, you will find it growing in maybe four of the 21 areas in Italy. Abruzzo isn't listed as one of them. How rare can you get? Mallorio is made by Cantina Orsogna, a co-op farming 1,000 acres of grapes, of which 800 are certified organic. It is run by an assemblage of vineyard owners and winemakers. Orsogna was named Winery of the Year at Vinitaly in 2012, which is unheard-of for a co-op. Just because a grape is rare, it's not necessarily interesting. That is certainly not the case with Pecorino. Don't confuse it with the famous cheese of the same name. It did get its name from the famous cheese made from sheep's milk, because the only grape sheep seem to like is Pecorino. Bad news for growers!
I love wines like this because they are exotic, interesting, engaging and taste like nothing else. You are first struck by the almost glimmering color with a sparkle all its own. Next comes the aroma of fresh cut flowers like nasturtium and jasmine. The flavor is similar, but adds a touch of quince and persimmon, a dose of citrus and a mesmerizing minerality.