I traveled to Abruzzo for the first time in 2018 and it was an eye opening experience for me. Throughout my time studying wine, both by myself reading various wine books at home before finally progressing on to certified courses in 2010, Abruzzo seemed to be an unimportant area to know. It was acknowledged primarily for the large amount of grapes grown for bulk producers rather than as a place from which one could seek interesting wines. The main concern from both books and instructors was that its main grape, Montepulciano, should not be confused with a place name in Tuscany.
On my first day there, I was struck by the expansive views of the Adriatic Sea which I could see from my hotel followed by the lush beauty of the countryside with the mountains in the background that I would see while visiting wine producers. Why was this place not on more American's radar as a travel destination, I wondered. To see to what I am referring, you can just look at the photo at the top of this blog, it is a vineyard in Abruzzo that I took on my first day there.
One of my first wine surprises of the trip was learning about the deeply-hued rosato they produced called Cerasuolo D'Abruzzo. This wine had earned its own DOC in 2010 though it has been produced for longer under different labeling. The name translates to cherry and refers to the wines cherry-red color. The wine is made from Montepulciano grapes just like its red counterpart. The shorter time with the grape skins during fermentation is what allows it to have its lighter, brighter color and its more vibrant fruity flavor. I'm always delighted when I find one of these on a wine list. It is enjoyable to drink alone (as most dry rosés are) but it is particularly good to enjoy with lighter menu options like salads or with prosciutto. I did not visit this winery during my time there but I would be interested to do so on a future trip.
Cirelli La Collina Biologica Cerasuolo D'Abruzzo 2018 - This was a fairly average year for red wines in Abruzzo but this organic rosato shines brighter than the year would lead you to believe. Dry, fresh and flavorful with notes of sour cherry, orange peel, and a light floral nuance with a hint of minerality in the crisp finish. This was purchased for $23.99 at Houston Wine Merchant.
I was already somewhat familiar with the red wines of the region upon arrival. They were apt to turn up on Houston wine lists at casual Italian restaurants and, occasionally, as a bargain priced red on steakhouse menus. I was, however, surprised by the higher quality wines that I tried during this trip. Some from the Colline Teramane subzone were particularly incredible and deserve the higher prices being demanded. The wine that I am reviewing here is not that, nor is it a Riserva with extra aging time. It is one of those simpler reds that was my first introduction to the region many years ago.
This wine is produced by one of the winery's that I did get to tour. Our group then tasted a line of the wines over lunch at Castello di Semivicoli which you can read about here, I enjoyed myself so much on that visit that I did not take good notes while there.
Masciarelli Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 2016 - This year was an exceptional year in Abruzzo and it can even be seen in this budget friendly red. Fruity aromas of black cherry and raspberry dominate over the lighter savory and spicy pepper notes, though its only has a medium length, this medium body wine is dry with soft tannins and enough acidity to keep it food friendly, particularly with the pizza with which it was enjoyed. Approximately $12, purchased at Spec's.