panorama  › Wine 24

The sublime simplicity of Simone Noro’s Costafredda Passerina

by Claudio Celio

Passerina is a native white variety grown in central Italy that was long relegated to a marginal role, considered a rather simplistic, rough-hewn wine because crops were high and quality was scanty: these were the dark ages of Passerina, and they lasted quite a while.

In recent years though, some wineries in Abruzzi, Marche and Lazio have come up with decidedly more interesting Passerina varietals. The Noro family’s Costafredda Passerina is surely one of the latter.

The location is the Piglio district (home of Cesanese) in the province of Frosinone; here, Carlo Noro and his son Simone biodynamically cultivate around one hectare (around two and a half acres) under Cesanese and Passerina vine, producing tiny quantities.

In the case of Passerina, which hails from 50-year-old vines and older, the result is a veritable gem and yearly production is a little in excess of 1,000 bottles. I had the opportunity of tasting the latest two vintages: 2014 and 2015, the latter just about to be released.

Two very different wines reflecting very diverse vintages, climatically: 2014, a cooler year, has given us a northern-style version, with a delicate, elegant bouquet reminiscent of white flowers and a nippy, briny, lissome and vertical palate; my sneak preview of the 2015 Costafredda Passerina, on the other hand, showed a white wine characterized by higher alcohol, sturdier body and greater structure.

This is the outcome – says SimoneNoro – both of a dry, hot vintage and of a small change in the vinification process: “I got the 2015 must to macerate on the skins for a bit longer,” confides the grower, which not only enriched the wine but endowed it with a very slight tannic component.

Apart from this, both years saw fermentation in stainless steel with a lengthy sojourn sur lie and at least 12 months’ bottle age prior to release. Both are eminently quaffable, all-around food wines, particularly suited to fish dishes – a match made in heaven with Costafredda Passerina.