In 1838, Charles Albert, King of Sardinia and Piedmont, purchased the Castello di Verduno in Piedmont, determined to make Barolo, the gorgeously aromatic red wine produced from Nebbiolo grapes. Since the early 1900s, however, the Castello di Verduno has been owned by the Burlotto family and they continue to make wines using traditional techniques, buffered by "small but significant" innovations. The red range now goes beyond Nebbiolo to include Barbera, Dolcetto, and Pelaverga, a rare grape unique to Piedmont. It’s that grape that is behind the wine I’ve chosen, Bellis Perennis, whose Latin name means everlasting beauty. It’s also the name of the daisy that grows in and around the vineyards in the village of Verduno.
Despite being made from a red grape, Bellis Perennis is actually a blanc de noir—a white wine made from red grapes (the skins are removed before fermentation). Blanc de noirs really aren't that hard to find, but they are when they're made from a rare grape like Pelaverga, which barely makes it into the bottle as a red wine, let alone a white. Pelaverga normally makes a full-bodied, hearty wine with a slightly bitter edge. It might remind you of a Dolcetto, but with a bit more bramble fruit flavor and oomph. But when vinified white, the grape produces an entirely different wine, showing off silky, mineral yellow plums, preceded by white flowers on the nose.
I recently went to a rooftop barbecue, where I presented a bottle of Bellis Perennis to my host. We sipped it before and during a dinner of grilled sardines dressed simply with olive oil and lemon. The wine's silky texture and aromatics made it the perfect aperitif, bit it also had enough weight and acidity to pair deliciously with the meal. Bellis Perennis is white and refreshing enough for the hottest days, but its medium weight makes it a great transitional wine as we stretch out summer a bit before committing to the heavier whites of fall and winter.