Bombino Bianco | Native Italian white grape variety (although some suggest Bombino Bianco arrived in Italy from Spain) found mainly in Foggia and Bari provinces in the Puglia region of Italy. Bombino Bianco is also grown in south-western Lazio where it is known as Ottonese, and in the Abruzzo region (where it is mainly used in blends) as well as Emilia-Romagna.
Bombino Bianco has often been confused with other varieties leading to mis-labelling of ‘Bombino Bianco’ wines. Research by José Vouillamoz shows that although Bombino Bianco is not a white mutation of the red Bombino Nero grape (also found in Puglia), DNA analysis suggests a possible close relationship. It is not yet known whether Bombino Bianco and Trebbiano Abruzzese are distinct varieties but both are unrelated to Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbiano di Soave (aka Verdicchio). Recent DNA parentage analysis has suggested that Bombino Bianco is a possible parent of both Impigno and Moscatello Selvatico from Puglia (Cipriani et al. 2010).
The name | Bombino bunches are said to look like a cuddly infant or ‘bambino’ in Italian. Others say Bombino or ‘small bomb’ relates to the shape of the bunches. Another theory is Bombino derives from ‘buon vino’ or ‘good wine’ in dialect, good in this sense may mean either wine quality or its ‘good’ – meaning copious – yields. Other synonyms include Pagadebit (‘debt payer’), Straccia Cambiale (‘rip up the invoices’), and Bonvino Bianco (‘good grape’) in Lazio.
In the vineyard | It ripens late. so may get hit by bad weather at harvest.
Wine style | It has notable acidity levels, and so can be used for sparkling wines. Ole Udsen told me (at Radici del Sud, 13th June 2015) that Bombino Bianco ‘can have a slightly leafy greenish note, fairly neutral, very much in the Trebbiano Abruzzese mould. This means that, when balanced, it is a good conduit for terroir expression. It also has a high level of dry extract.’ This latter quality may account for why Bombino Bianco is said to have a creamy texture. Peach, aniseed, almonds and white flowers are other potential flavours.
DOC wines | Castel del Monte DOC (Puglia). Frascati DOC (Lazio). | Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC (Abruzzo). | San Severo DOC (Puglia).
DOCG wines | Canellino di Frascati DOCG (Lazio).
Typical flavours | Almond, aniseed, flowers (white), peach.
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.83-4.