They call it Pallagrellooooo

29 Jan
Alepa Riccio Bianco Pallagrello Bianco 2010 & Nanni Cope' Sabbia di Sopra il Bosco 2009

Alepa Riccio Bianco Pallagrello Bianco 2010 & Nanni Cope’ Sabbia di Sopra il Bosco 2009

It was a combination of the inner, studious geek within me and this article ‘Grape varieties you’ve never heard of’ by Jancis Robinson that had me keen to research and understand the Pallagrello varieties of Campania in southern Italy.



Wines made from rare, autochthonous grape varieties are not necessarily easy to come by, especially when referring to imports. They tend to be shipped into Australia in small quantities because of the high risk involved in trying to sell an obscure grape variety. Fortunately for the Australian public, there are risk takers in the trade on both the importing and buying end. Passion and interesting wines drive Melbourne distributors Mark Singarella of Vino Bambino and Naz Fazio of Vinosita’, who each have a Pallagrello dominant wine in their portfolios.

What is Pallagrello?

Pallagrello is an ancient, rare Campanian grape variety. There are two distinct versions: Pallagrello Bianco and Pallagrello Rosso, which are unrelated to one another yet both thought to originate from the province of Caserta. Historically, it was in this area in the nearby royal palace of King Ferdinand I that the architect, Luigi Vanvitellia, planted a vineyard in 1775 with these two varieties.


For many years the white Pallagrello was mistaken as the Coda di Volpe Bianca variety. It was thus eventually considered extinct until a local vigneron named Peppe Mancini rediscovered it in the 1990s. Nowadays Pallagrello is grown on a small scale and is still not restricted by DOC regulations.

Pallagrello Bianco is a low yielding grape variety with the synonyms Pallagrella Bianca, Pallagrello di Avellino, Pallarello and Piedimonte Bianco. The latter synonym derives from a commune in Campania called Piedimonte Matese. It is between this area and another commune Alife, that the Pallagrello varieties are thought to originate.

Tasting of Pallagrello Bianco:

Producer: Alepa Riccio, imported by Mark Singarella at Vino Bambino

Wine: Bianco ‘Pallagrello Bianco’ 2010

Classification: Terre del Volturno IGT

Paola Riccio is the woman behind the Alepa winery. The Pallagrello Bianco vines were planted in 2004 at 250m above sea level. The wine underwent a long and gentle fermentation followed by 11 months in stainless steel.

The Alepa Riccio Bianco is deep golden yellow in colour. It has heady, lusty aromas of ripe melon fruits, hay, apricot, peach, fennel seeds, sage and acacia honey. There is a fair amount going on in this wine on the nose. The palate has a noticeably thick mouth feel; it is generous without being coarse. There is a suggestion of sweetness, however it is bone-dry. It’s a well-bolstered wine with a pleasant mineral finish. 14.00% alcohol Production: 5000 bottles.


Pallagrello Nero is also cultivated in the Caserta province and has the synonyms Coda di Volpe Nera, Pallagrella Nera, Piedilungo and Piedimonte Rosso. It has a close genetic relationship with the Casavecchia variety, which the below wine also has a small component of.

Pallagrello Nero is a mid to late ripening variety, with thick, densely coloured skins and produces wines with ultra-fine tannins.

Tasting of Pallagrello Nero:

Producer: Nanni Cope, imported by Naz Fazio at Vinosita’

Wine: Sabbie di Sopra Il Bosco 2009

Classification: Terre del Bolturno IGT

85% Pallagrello Nero, 12% Aglianico and 3% Casavecchia.

Giovanni Ascione is the man behind Nanni Cope’, a name derived from the moniker he received as a child. The term Sabbie (sands) on the label refers to the high draining soil in his Sopra Il Bosco vineyard which has a prevalence of sand (82%) with smaller shares of clay and silt.

Sopra il Bosco sits 230m above sea level with vines exposed to the north-west. The vineyard is twenty years old. Winemaking occurs with two to three weeks of primary fermentation followed by maturation in 50% new 500L French tonneaux for thirteen months, then eight months in bottle.

On the nose there is a black, savoury dominance with elements of silt, earth, sea salt and hints of porcini mushrooms. The palate has a slatey clean mouthfeel, with meatiness in the mid-palate. There are fine, black chalkboard tannins and flavours of liquorice and black olives. The acidity is balanced overall and the finish is beautifully fine and long.

Production: 7500 bottles, not filtered prior to bottling.

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