Sheep, a wine from a rediscovered grape

by Antonella Amodio 01/22/20
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Il verro cantina vini campania

The Il Verro estate in the province of Caserta rediscovered the Coda di Pecora varietal and, at present, is the only one using it to make a wine, their intriguing Sheep.

The value of a territory is also measured by the commitment of its residents to protect and bring back its history and traditions, including their cultural heritage. A case in point is the small winery Il Verro of Cesare Avenia, the current head of the Confindustria Digitale industrialists’ association. He founded his wine estate in 2003 in Formicola – in the Caserta hills – and there cultivates Pallagrello Bianco and Nero, Casavecchia and, now, Coda di Pecora, which are all made into single-grape wines.

Coda di Pecora is a white varietal (which at the time was unknown) and it was found amid the vineyards of ungrafted vines of local varieties after the property was acquired. Working with the Enology Department at the University of Portici, DNA tests were carried out along with ampelographic and morophological studies to determine what the grape was and classify it, especially if it was unique. In the end, the conclusion was that this was a “new” varietal (in the sense that it was not listed on the national grape variety register) although it had been cited in the study on grape varieties present in the region of Campania carried out in 1875 by Giuseppe Frojo, where Coda di Pecora was mentioned as a grape found at the feet of Montemaggiore, which thus confirmed its presence in the area.

Originally from Magna Graecia, Coda di Pecora is an unusual grape that has a long and compact bunch with distinct branches. The grape turns a bold, golden-yellow as it matures and it ripens later than other white varietals in Campania, with harvest taking place – in some years – even up to the end of October. And this without the grape losing its acidity.

Banking on this discovery and the excellent results from initial winemaking, in 2005, Il Verro began the paperwork to have the Coda di Pecora added to the national register. Then, with the 2011 harvest, they began to produce Sheep, a Terre di Volturno IGT. The grapes grow on the estate in a volcanic soil that contains silex which gives a wine a sour note and a significant potential to age. The grapes are fermented and matured in stainless steel vats to maintain their fresh notes of annurca apple, camphor and wild linden that help fill out the wine’s flavor. Sheep is a wine with a distinct acidity and freshness and with aging it develops a personal organoleptic note of eucalyptus and a smoky sensation.

Here we have selected four vintages based on the weather conditions and the evolution of the wine.

Terre del Volturno Sheep 2018 

93/100 - € 16,00  

Made in stainless steel using only Coda di Pecora grapes. A golden, straw-yellow color and a broad aroma of apricot, acacia flower, melon and annurca apple peel. The aroma is a tad edgy due to the wine’s youth, saline, acidic and with a long, rewarding finish and an aftertaste of fresh almond.

Bottles produced: 2,200.

Terre del Volturno Sheep 2017 

90/100 - € 16,00  

Made in stainless steel using only Coda di Pecora grapes. A luminous, golden-yellow color and an extremely varietal aroma with distinct notes of annurca apple, blood orange and linden. The mouthfeel is glyceric, brackish and acidic with a warm and persistent finish.

Bottles produced: 2,200.

Terre del Volturno Sheep 2013 

93/100 - € 16,00 

Made in stainless steel using only Coda di Pecora grapes. A golden-yellow color and a complex aroma of camphor, underbrush, pine needles and eucalyptus. The mouthfeel is rich, bracing and acidic with a long finish that has smoky nuances.

Bottles produced: 1,800.

Terre del Volturno Sheep 2011 

92/100 - € 16,00   

Made in stainless steel using only Coda di Pecora grapes. A golden-yellow color and a bouquet with hints of dried apricot, citron, camphor and a tad of hydrocarbon. The mouthfeel is fresh, lively and brackish, warm, wrapping and persistent. A wine still in evolution.

Bottles produced: 900.

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