There are several explanations as to how the grape got its unique name. The grape bunches looks like a little baby (Bambino) stretching out its arms. I’ve never seen a bunch of grapes look like a baby to me but it’s a cute story. The second one is only slightly more believable. This story states that the grape is from Spain. The Spanish name is Bonvino, or “the good wine.” Now, in Spanish the letter “V” is pronounced like a “B” and the word got corrupted by the Italians. Story three is where I’ll put my money. The grape in the area is called “pagadebit” or “pagadeito” which means “the debt payer.” Now several grapes are called that name and sometimes they are called “stracchia cambiale” which has an even more colorful meaning of, “tear up the invoices.” The Bombino is a very high yield grape so I’d bet this is the answer.
I think answer number three gains in value when we explore the name of the wine Catapanus. Catapanus was the name of the governor to Calabria and Puglia under the Byzantine Emperors. I’d bet they had to pay a few debts to him!
I enjoyed this wine with my Christmas Eve meal, Feast of the Seven Fishes. If you are not familiar with this traditional southern Italian Christmas Eve meal it consists of some fried seafood, some marinated seafood, some braised or baked seafood and of course pasta, along with family and friends and wine, lots, and lots of wine.
We shot though the Bombino very quickly as everyone enjoyed it. Like most whites it had a faint nose of fruit; I got pears and apples. On the palate the wine was medium bodied with flavors of pears and a little lemon. It paired well with the baked and fired fish; we switched to a red wine for the pasta. The finish wasn’t strong enough to really pin down and was a little chalky. I’m not really a good judge of white wines, but I enjoyed this wine with my meal and everyone else did too!
I got my bottle of Bombino Bianco at Center Street wine and spirits in Wallingford CT.