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Tollo Montepulciano DAbruzzo 2001
Way out along Adelaida Road stands a little red farmhouse, home to Tolo Cellars. Josh Gibson, proprietor and winemaker, offers a sumptuous array of wines – Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and exotic Rhone blends – all sourced from vineyards tucked away in the rustic hills, where once frolicked the pioneers of the Adelaida township. This historically adventurous area, marked by rugged terrain, offers ideal hillside conditions for vines bearing hardy and distinctive wine grapes.
Josh’s goal in winemaking is to allow these vineyards, each with its own flora and fauna, to express themselves in glorious harmony. Thus, all his wines are fermented with native yeast, allowing the robust and wild flavors of the vines to exude in the wines. The results are libations of uncommon depth and mysterious character, much like the surrounding hillsides.
Josh opened his tasting room doors in December 2005, though he was well-versed in the Far Out lifestyle long before that. As assistant winemaker at Le Cuvier Winery for several years, Josh learned the tricks of crafting high quality wines in small lots. He continues that practice today, limiting production to just around 1,200 cases.
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.