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Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2016
Rich and ripe dark cherry fruit, along with attractive spicy, smoky notes. Fleshy and full, with surprising depth and length.
Founded by Abruzzo native Gianni Masciarelli in 1981, Masciarelli and its wines have become the standard-bearer for the Abruzzo region, and an inspiration to all emerging Italian wine regions. After a summer in Champagne in his youth, Gianni Masciarelli returned home convinced that world-class wines could be produced in Abruzzo. Through tremendous vision and endless innovation, Masciarelli became one of the most admired wineries in Italy. Gianni firstly brought a strong focus on vineyard sites and management, not a typical point of focus at the time. Reducing yields, working sustainably, and bringing vineyard planting and management techniques new to the region, he greatly increased fruit quality. In the winery he broke the mold by gently and precisely and gently handling fruit, and introducing the high quality substance he had to extended aging, adding depth and complexity to his wines and resulting in better integration of tannin.
The innovation that Gianni and his wife, Marina Cvetic, brought to the vineyards and the winery has been rewarded with 29 Tre Bicchieri, the prestigious award of the most renowned wine guide in Italy, and recognition as a groundbreaking and iconic winery in Italy. Above all, Gianni Masciarelli brought attention to the extraordinary region of Abruzzo, where 30 miles separate snow-capped mountains from the sea. The rich, diverse and proud culture is reflected in the wines, which have fantastically singular and seductive characteristics.
The winery headquarters are in San Martino sulla Marrucina, in the province of Chieti, in the house that Gianni took over from his grandfather, and the cellar below where he vinified his first vintages. Though Gianni Masciarelli began with just five acres in Chieti, over the years the estate has grown to nearly 900 acres, though split into over 60 parcels that do not adjoin one another. The Masciarelli approach was to buy only top vineyards, regardless of location in Abruzzo. They are today the only producer in Abruzzo to own land in all 4 provinces of Abruzzo (Chieti, Pescara, Teramo and l’Aquila), and their production of wines is 100% estate.
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.
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.
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.
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.