This not a wine that is submissive, which was once almost extinct. Normally I like to give a wine’s personality later upon review, but this grape’s persona deserves recognition. It comes predative, brooding with garnet color, resistant thick skin, yielding complex flavors of wild black fruit, melted chocolate, peppery kick with a lick of smoke aged salumi, yet finishes with velour tannins, baking with alcohol, and ready to age for another lifetime…your majesty, Pallagrello is always ready for battle on the taste buds.

PALLAGRELLO  NERO ( black ) grape has had his home in Campania Italy since the ancient Greeks. The Grecians have always had a creative nature for naming things and they named this grape after the two parallel bunches of grapes that give way into a U shape. 

It grows happily at the base of an extinct volcano, Roccamonfina, in its native Province of Caserta in Naples. Yeah, this is no active Mount Vesuvio, as most grapes and wines from this region are bold, aggressive, and short-lived. Yet this is a very complex grape, not very productive and very delicate. He does have a sibling sister Pallagrello Bianca, but she is an even more delicate type than her brother.

Pallagrello was no doubt a grape born out of royalty. In the 1800s, the Royal Palace of Caserta was a former royal residence constructed for King Ferdinand 1V, the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies as the main residence of generational Kings of Naples. The Baroque Palace was named by UNESCO as the largest of its kind in the world! 

What IS the Tale of two Sicilian cities that gave birth to this wine?  Well, Teano is the exact village site in Caserta that was the famous meeting spot in the 19th century between an Italian nationalist fighter, and the King of Sardinia of the time. They literally wrestled the kingdom away from the Neapolitan Bourbons. The Italian patriot shook King Emmanuel of Sardinia’s hand and proclaimed him as king of ALL Italy! Does anyone have that kind of power anymore?… not these days.

Who knows who was REALLY king, but what is clear is Pallagrello was the anointed wine,  prized within the battleground of two Sicilian cities vs. Naples! Could this have been ground zero for the breeding ground of the Mafia? That’s pointless, most important is that the Palace absolutely adored Pallagrello Nero. Unfortunately,  phylloxera proved to be more powerful than any kingdom and slew the grape. 

The wine comes from a working farm, like many wineries in Italy, NOTHING is wasted. Known as an Azienda Agricola/Vinicola, I Cacciagalli is a farm, winery, and staycation. The blooming estate in the royal region of Caserta is located at the foot of an idle volcano, Roccamonfina. Many native grapes are resurrecting and this one grape that even phylloxera couldn’t wipe off its homeland.

Pallagrello may have been sealed with a handshake perhaps, secured by Italian kings, but it’s ready to fight beyond its borders. What grapes are you exploring in southern Italy?


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