Thursday, October 29, 2009

Encore: Piccolo back on Basignani shelves

Always like to hear the stories about how wines that aren't named after a grape or region are named. Generally there's a good story there to tell, and that's the case with Piccolo, produced by Basignani Winery in Sparks, Md., about a 12-minute ride off I-83 just north of Towson.

I'm planning to use that as one of the featured wines in Vintages, something I've started writing for In Central Pennsylvania magazine, which is published by the Patriot-News of Harrisburg.

Piccolo is a medium-bodied 50-50 red blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon that's heavy on fruit and light on tannins. It could handle any type of meat dish, and also partner quite well with anything pasta. Had it down at Basignani during the eye-popping post-picking lunch that Lynne puts on, and you couldn't have asked for anything nicer to go with the lasagna and complementary dishes she served. Gotta also like the cost, at $11.75.

Asked Lynne by e-mail how the wine got its name and got an answer along with a bit of a history lesson.

"Originally we made this wine about 8 years ago, because we had a really bad vintage (1996) and didn't want to sell our Cabernet as Cabernet because of the reputation that we had built up with that wine," she wrote. "So we decided to 'declassify' the wine, sell it cheaper, and come up with a different name. At the time Boordy had a wine they called 'Petit Cabernet,' meaning a lighter Cabernet, of course, actually meaning 'little' Cabernet. We decided to 'borrow' the name from them, but use the Italian version of little, which is 'piccolo.' We made several vintages of Piccolo over the years. It actually developed quite a following. We haven't made it for several years, but Bert decided to release one this year. We already had a ready public that was familiar with it and would be thrilled to see it again. Probably more information than you wanted or needed, but there it is. In short, it means 'Little' Cabernet."