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Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Iskra 2011

Montepulciano from Abruzzo, Italy
  • JS90
0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

Iskra is a complete outlier, and Iskra in particular is a complete outlier, representing a single vineyard handled in a particular way to create a wine of extraordinary distinction and depth.

Critical Acclaim

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JS 90
James Suckling
Aromas of tar and blackberries. Hints of wet earth. Medium to full body, chewy tannins and a savory finish. A little over-extracted but attractive all the same. Drink now.
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Masciarelli, Abruzzo, Italy
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After working a harvest in Champagne at the age of 22, Gianni Masciarelli was convinced he could make world-class wine in his home of Abruzzo. He knew to do this, he was going to have to work differently than the others in the region and think differently about the land. His first revolutionary step was an extreme focus on the vineyard and the land. While others were squeezing as much yield per hectare as possible, Gianni dropped vine production so all of the plant’s energy could be concentrated on less fruit, thereby producing higher quality grapes. In addition to reduced yields, Gianni also farmed all the land organically, thus preserving the vineyards and the heritage of his winery for the future.

Then, with these extraordinary grapes, he made some vinification decisions that were definitely against the grain in Abruzzo: he introduced French oak, and in a smaller format no less. Instead of Slavonian botti, Gianni opted for French barriques to age his wine. In addition to his classic wines of Abruzzo -Montepulciano and Trebbiano - Gianni set out to pay homage to his grandfather, Giovaninno, by producing iconic wines from the vineyard directly behind the original winery, Villa Gemma, which his grandfather used to create his first vintage in 1930.

Over the years, Gianni acquired 60 separate plots of land totaling 300 acres, which is all still owned by the estate and remains organically farmed. Gianni passed away in 2008 but the estate lives on under the guidance of Marina and their daughter, Miriam. Since the winery’s inception in 1981, Masciarelli has been awarded 29 Tre Bicchieri awards, including an unprecedented 14 straight years of this distinction for the Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

A warm, Mediterranean vine-growing paradise, in Abruzzo, the distance from mountains to seaside is relatively short. The Apenniness, which run through the center of Italy, rise up on its western side while the Adriatic Sea defines its eastern border.

Wine composition tends to two varieties: Abruzzo’s red grape, Montepulciano and its white, Trebbiano. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can come in a quaffable, rustic and fruity style that generally drinks best young. It is also capable of making a more serious style, where oak aging tames its purely wild fruit.

Trebbiano in Abruzzo also comes in a couple of varieties. Trebbiano Toscana makes a simple and fruity white. However when meticulously tended, the specific Trebbiano d’Abruzzo-based white wines can be complex and long-lived.

In the region’s efforts to focus on better sites and lower yields, vine acreage has decreased in recent years while quality has increased.


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Consistently enticing and enjoyable, Montepulciano enjoys great popularity throughout central and southern Italy and is gaining quite a following in many other parts of the world. Widely prolific in its homeland, Montepulciano is actually the second most planted red variety in Italy after Sangiovese, though it is most associated with the region of Abruzzo where it achieves its highest potential. A tiny bit grows in California, Argentina and Australia as well.

In the Glass

Dark and inky, Montepulciano brims with boysenberry, black plum and juicy tart cherry flavors. Typical aromas come in the form of berry pie, freshly cut Italian herbs, dark chocolate and licorice. It’s a full-bodied wine with fine to rustic tannins.

Perfect Pairings

Historically this variety has been one to inhabit many pizzeria and cafe wine lists throughout central and into southern Italy, offering amazing value for everyday consumption. It is no doubt a perfect complement to a variety of other foods we are used to: barbecued brisket, meatloaf, Shepherd’s Pie, meatloaf and grilled portabella mushrooms. Think of it as the perfect alternative to Syrah, Petite Sirah or Malbec if you’re looking to broaden your horizons.

Sommelier Secret

The wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is actually not to be confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is also the name of a village in Tuscany; Sangiovese grows there and is responsible for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The grape called Montepulciano grows in Abruzzo and makes the wine called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

YNG472622_2011 Item# 330980