Piedirosso is an ancient black-skinned grape variety found throughout Campania, Italy. It was very widely planted in the 19th Century following the phylloxera crisis, but has since suffered a decline. Today, the trend is slowly being reversed with producers returning to the grape, albeit predominantly as a blending partner for Aglianico andOlivella.
Piedirosso means "red feet" in Italian, and is named as such because the stem is made up of three branches and is russet colored making the vine resemble a dove's foot. This also explains some of the variety's other names Palombina, meaning "little dove" andPere'e Pallummo, meaning "dove's foot".
Single-variety wines made from Piedirosso tend to be deep ruby in color and full bodied with soft tannins. Typical flavors in these wines include plum, cherry and brambly wild berry fruit. More complex characteristics such as espresso, mushroom and damp earth are exhibited in the better examples. A minerally, almost salty characteristic can be found in many Piedirosso wines, which can in part be attributed to the volcanic soils on which the grape thrives. All single-variety wines are classified under the IGT title.
Blends containing Piedirosso are far more common than single-variety wines. The grape is grown in 10 DOC areas in Campania; Taburno, Campo Flegrei, Capri, Amalfi Coast, Falerno del Massico, Ischia, Penisola Sorrentina, Sannio, Sant'Agata dei Goti, and Vesuvio. Its most well-known blend is perhaps the Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio red and rosé wines, in which it must make up a minimum of 50 percent of the blend. Olivella and Aglianico are permitted to make up the remainder of the blend. Campi Flegrei, Penisola Sorrentina and Ischia red wines have similar requirements. The variety is seen to bring softness and complexity to wines such as Aglianico that might otherwise be too intense as a single variety. Piedirosso is also permitted as a minor blending component (less than 15 percent) in two of the four DOCGs in Campania; Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno.
Piedirosso is occasionally used in passito which is the Italian style of vin de paille (straw wine). It is a sweet wine that is made from dried-out grapes.