Abruzzo for wine lovers

The restored Castello di Semivicoli at Masciarelli
The restored Castello di Semivicoli at Masciarelli.

Abruzzo’s landscape is astonishing: a backdrop of statuesque mountains soaring to nearly 3,000m above sea level and capped with snow for six months of the year, with river valleys running down to the Adriatic coast through a band of hills where cool breezes and dramatic night-day temperature swings provide perfect conditions for fragrant, expressive wines.

The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo variety dominates the region’s production with generous, fruity and elegant, or powerful and complex purple-toned wines. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, the intense deep cherry-coloured rose? made with the same grape, is the locals’ go-to wine for its incredible versatility and charm – perfect with dishes such as brodetto (fish stew), arrosticini (the lamb skewers that have achieved cult status), charcuterie and Pecorino cheese.

Abruzzo’s white wine scene is focusing ever more on bold, herby Pecorino (the grape, not the cheese!) alongside Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Passerina and the less common Cococciola and Montonico. The passion and drive for quality of the region’s winemakers is palpable, aided by a dynamic consorzio.

Northern Abruzzo, home to the Colline Teramane DOCG, resembles a drawing, with neat rows of hills backed by the Gran Sasso d’Italia massif. This idyllic scenery is vivid at Emidio Pepe, one of Abruzzo’s legendary wineries, which also offers accommodation for the season after mid-April. A pioneer of extreme ageing, Pepe began in 1964 with less than a hectare under vine (now some 17ha). Intervention is minimal: handpicked grapes are pressed by foot-treading (join in if you’re there at harvest time); and ageing can last for 20 years or more.

The tasting experience at Cantina Mazzarosa, group of people with raised wine glasses

The tasting experience at Cantina Mazzarosa

Nearby, on the coast at Roseto degli Abruzzi, lies the Mazzarosa winery, built by 19th-century senator Giuseppe Devincenzi, who introduced new agricultural methods and grape varieties to the region. The estate has preserved its own clones for its Pecorino white, and its red Vere Novo is the result of an experiment during Covid lockdown, made with partial whole-bunch fermentation giving an intense, velvety Montepulciano (the inaugural 2020 vintage won Platinum in the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards).

In the same area, winemaker Antonio Lamona at Vini La Quercia is one of only a few growing the Montonico grape, which thrives in mountain conditions and is celebrated with a festival in Bisenti that takes place over the first weekend in October. Lamona makes an apple-fresh still version.

In his consultant role, Lamona helped set up another Colline Teramane winery, Abbazia di Propezzano, which, like most Abruzzo wineries, also produces olive oil from centuries-old trees. Each local area has its traditional varieties and there is an olive oil museum at the charming hill town Loreto Aprutino. Also welcoming visitors is nearby Ciavolich, a long-established family-run winery with farmhouse accommodation and whirlpool hot-tubs in a secret garden.

Another attractive winery that offers accommodation, as well as a range of summertime events in the vineyards, is Tenuta Tre Gemme. In an especially scenic position surrounded by vines, offering open views panning between the ever-present mountains and the sea, it’s run by two sisters who made a major career change to concentrate on the family estate, making highly enjoyable wines, including a fresh, agile Cerasuolo.

New heights

Pasetti, southeast of Ofena

Pasetti, southeast of Ofena

In Abruzzo’s southern province of Chieti, where the majority of the region’s wine is made, Tenuta I Fauri (offers accommodation), run by Luigi di Camillo and his sister Valentina, are upholding traditions while experimenting with styles; their excellent wines include a characterful pe?t-nat Pecorino. The Pecorino grape had virtually disappeared a few decades ago and its resurgence in the mid-1990s is largely thanks to Cataldi Madonna, where it was first bottled in 1996 from vines at 320m-440m in…

Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/abruzzo-for-wine-lovers-525615/