Abruzzo – an authentic and forgotten Italy

To many winelovers – even Italians – Abruzzo remains one of Italy’s best kept secrets. What a shame that is because Abruzzo has a rich culinary heritage to draw upon and beautiful wines come out of this region so beautifully tucked in between the Appennines with the Maiella and Gran Sasso National Parks and the Adriatic Sea.

The conditions to growing grapes in the region are fantastic with plenty of sunshine and abundant rainfall. The proximity to both the ocean and the mountains provides lots of places where cooling breezes and diurnal range bring added freshness and flavour intensity to the wines.

Regional stars are the green Trebbiano and the black Montepulciano, which premium wine producers such as the iconic Emidio Pepe, Edoardo Valentini and Umani Ronchi have been producing fantastic wine from since several decades.

Even among much more recently established producers, wines are produced which winelovers worldwide ought to be familiar with. One such producers is Masciarelli Tenute Agricole from San Martino Sulla Marrucina in the province of Chieti.

Gianni Masciarelli founded his business in 1981 and today, we were told at a recent virtual tasting of four wines from Masciarelli, wine is produced from grapes grown sustainable and increasingly organic from more than 60 different plots on very different types of soil in all four provinces of Abruzzo: Chieti and Pescara with moderating, cooling sea breezes, Teramo with it’s acclaimed Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG and finally the mountainous l’Aquila. Masciarelli produces 22 different labels from 7 ranges and olive oil is produced, too.

The restored 17th century Castello di Semivicoli offers itself as a perfect base for a visit to Abruzzo. Spectaular location with everything an oeno-/gastro-savvy tourist could ask for, including baking- and cooking classes.

Pecorino Castello di Semivicoli 2020 is a dry, lively and elegant white from Pecorino grapes grown in vineyards at 350 meters altitude in Casacanditella. Pecorino performs at its best at higher sites, as excess sugar contents are avoided and thus the wines will be neither too sweet nor too high in alcohol.
Pecorino is one of the many green Italian varieties that the world has more or less forgotten about. Fortunately, producers in both Abruzzo and neighbouring region Marche have re-found the love for Pecorino and lovely wines are now produced from it, such as this one. Plenty of fresh primary fruit and herbs such as thyme and sage. Good fruit concentration and a nice intensity.

Trebbiano is a grape that many people think less of, but plant the Trebbiano Abbruzzese clone, the most expressive of the Trebbiano clones, well up in the mountains, harvest later (medio October) and reduce your yields to 7-8 tons per hectare, and you are left with the potential to produce a truly great wine. And that is exactly what Trebbiano Riserva Marina Cvetic 2019 is. Full bodied and with great concentration. Aromas of peach, almond and apple as well as spicy notes from well-dosed new and used oak. The acidity lifts the wine and all together this is a wine with a very long life ahead of it. This is a white wine to pair very well with intense, flavourful dishes with fish and that easily squares off with light meats.

Montepulciano is a ‘mountainous’ grape, as well. It really thrives in hilly sites. It is a grape that can produce rustic and overly astringent wines, if not handled well. This is not at all the case for Montepulciano Gianni Masciarelli 2018! This is a very approachable version of Montepulciano. The grapes were grown in Loreto Aprutino in the province of Pescara. A really nice red wine for hot summer days, of which we have seen so many in Denmark in 2021. Aromatic with red berries, cherry and violet as well as a slightly herbaceous touch, bringing freshness to the wine. No oak was used here. Soft tannins for the variety and only very modest levels of residual sugar that rounds off the wine a bit. The acidity really fits in here and the resulting wine is a genuinely nice ‘every day’ red.

Marina Cvetic Montepulciano Riserva 2017 is a completely different animal. For this wine, grapes from 4 separate plots in San Martino Sulla Marrucina were used. Older vines give greater concentration in this wine. Plenty of fruit and both red and black berries plus lots of spices, which in part come from up to 18 months in both new and used, French oak barrels. This is simply a more complex wine than the Gianni Masciarelli. The use of oak is obvious here, yet in no way does it dominate the wine. Tannin levels are markedly higher here and it all points to a wine that drinks beautiful now and will continue to do so over the course of the next 10-15 years.

Masciarelli is imported to Denmark by Strandgaarden Wine and Spirits.

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