I first drank Pecorino a number of years ago at Lupa in New York, which was and is one of the most popular of the Bastianich-Batali eateries in town. I liked it very much. It was new (to me) and had a zesty, rather spicy, quality that made it go down real easy. I had it with cacio e pepe. Simple and utterly satisfying. Just like the wine.
A couple of years later, in the torrid summer of 2006, we visited Camillo Montori and tasted his Pecorino. Given the abysmal quality of the white wines we were encountering in the supermercati of Abruzzo, this wine was like a gift from the gods. It was a clean, zesty, oak-free charmer that helped compensate for the lack of air conditioning when temperatures were well over 100F.
Neddless to say, when we started working with the Costantini family, we were interested in the reds first -- we needed a well-priced Montepulciano d'Abruzzo with structure and excellent fruit, and we got it. We got their barriqued riserva (Tornese), which has turned into a steakhouse staple. But we had a lot of whites on the list back then, and we held off on the Pecorino.
In a way, we're glad we did. The wine has only gotten better, with more refreshing acidity and more of that slightly spicy fruit that makes me salivate just to think of.
The Costantini Pecorino 2010 came in only about two weeks ago, so the day I tasted a couple of customers on it, it was still a little dinged up from the trip. Not at its best, and I knew it wouldn't be -- I had been just eager as hell to start trotting it around.
But I have to say that the wine showed pretty well after its recent crossing. At dinner that night we drank the rest of the sample bottle. It was hot, we had no desire to heat up the kitchen, and so we ordered sushi from our favorite sushi place, Umi Sushi on East 56th.
Hello, spicy tuna roll, meet your Italian soulmate, Pecorino.
This is a white wine you'll love in summer and need, every so often, in the cooler months as well. Somehow I can't see spicy tuna roll pairing too well with Aglianico or, indeed, a California Pinot Noir. Pecorino fills the bill. And, hai, it even stands up to ginger and wasabi mustard.
Once not long after I first tasted Pecorino, il vino, I went to a well-self-regarded New York wine shop. I asked if they had any Pecorino. Confusion. "We don't sell any cheese here."
That, as they say, was then. This, happily, is here and now.