You might surmise that Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is from Piedmont, home to Barbera d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba and, of course, Barolo and Barbaresco. Or you might think it is somehow related to Lacryma Christi, a white wine (made from Coda di Volpe, Verdecca, Falalghina and Grecco), red or rose (composed of Piedirosso, Sciascinosa and Aglianico) from Campania. If you guessed either one of these two, you got the country right, but that is it. In spite of its name, Lacrima Morro d’Alba is completely its own wine, made in the Ancona province on Le Marche’s coast.
Lacrima is an ancient grape and its parentage has yet to be discovered. It is rarely found outside of the town, Morro d’Alba.
The grape shape is similar to a tear, hence the name. Dried grapes are added after the first racking, inducing another round of fermentation. It was often sweet in years gone, but today, dry is the new black Morro d’Alba.
Known for its enticing aromatics, Lacrima is very floral and can be a bit spicy as well. It can be tannic, though is never heavy and sometimes gracefully floats on the palate. While oak treatment is common, it is not always necessary as a large part of the wine’s lure is the natural bouquet. By law, up to 20 percent of Montepulciano or Verdicchio, a white grape, can be added to the wine, though most that I’ve tasted have been 100 percent varietal.
You will be hard-pressed to find a Lacrima di Morro d’Alba section in a wine shop. However, many local retailers will carry one or two, and it has made its presence known on the best wine lists in town. If you can see any of these three, don’t hesitate to grab a bottle.
Terre Cortesi Moncaro, Gaudente Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, 2007: Moncaro was founded in 1964 by several growers and has expanded over the years through acquisition. This wine has a bit of stinky funk that might drive some of you away — however, I know there are plenty of people who appreciate this quality. If you dare to move beyond the first impression, you will find a mouthful of pomegranate and black currants with a hint of white pepper and a long, fleshy finish. Suggested retail: $12
Badiali Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, 2008: The Badiali brothers produce Lacrima di Morro d’Alba exclusively. Fermented and aged in stainless steel, this wine has great fruit purity with blueberry concentrate and cherries, accents of black pepper and a bouquet of dried flowers. Suggested retail: $21
Vicari Lacrima di Morro d’Alba, La Lacrima del Pozzo Buono, 2007: This family-owned winery sits upon what was once the town well. Wonderfully fragrant with lavender, violets, candied orange peel and fresh cracked black pepper, it has good concentration and tannin yet seems surprisingly light on its toes. Suggested retail: $26
Pamela S. Busch is the wine director and proprietor of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in San Francisco.