Wednesday, March 25, 2009

An Encounter With Sirica

I recently took a wine tour of Irpinia, the Campania, Italy, region that is famous for its Taurasi, Fiano and Falanghina wines. It's nearly impossible to leave this land without a visit to the local wine-making (and marketing) colossus, Feudi di San Gregorio.

In the second-floor tasting room of the slick, modern winery—with a view over rows and rows of barrels—we tasted a couple of old Fianos, 1998 and 1994, which illustrating how the white grape can age similarly to Riesling; and a sparkling Falanghina; but the real excitement of the evening was an unlabeled bottle, an experimental fermentation of Sirica.

Sirica is an old Campanian red grape. Pliny referred to it in 75 a.d. How it got that name is a matter of debate. Pliny ascribed its name to a coloring agent of that time, the syricum. Another source says Sirica was imported from a region inhabited by the Seri, six centuries before the founding of Rome. Others say the name may derive from the ancient ionic town Siri, close to Metaponto. Some today say the wine is somehow related to Syrah.

Feudi di San Gregorio discovered a few old vines growing wild on its property and decided to make some wine. It was an interesting glass. It reminded me of some reds from the Friuli area, greenish, with dark rangy fruit, and high acidity.

I see that Feudi has brought out some Sirica in the past. I hope they do so again.

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