The Wine: Cancelli Rosso 2019
Cancelli Rosso is a sublimely focused and expressive red natural wine made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is named after the single cru where the 40 years-old vines are organically grown at an altitude of 350-500 mt. a.s.l.; the thermal excursion and high elevation imbues the grapes with exceptional character and finesse. Rabasco Cancelli Rosso is rustic, sincere, and incredibly bright and expressive; it tastes like children laughing in the summertime, crushed Morello cherries, spiced rhubarb, turmeric, and balsamic herbs.
The Producer: Vini Rabasco
Jole Rabasco, the soft-spoken and always jovial iron lady of Abruzzo’s natural wine, purchased the farm back in 2005 when she decided to embrace the mission of crafting rustic yet complex natural wines that hark back to the region’s rich viticulture and winemaking tradition. Nestled between the Maiella Massif and the Adriatic sea, the farm is comprised of about 9 hectares, all planted with local varieties such as Trebbiano and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Each wine comes from 4 different crus, allowing us to experience the different personalities of each grape in the different vineyards. The vines are farmed organically, with some biodynamic methods, and nothing is added or taken away in the cellar. These are exceptional wines that shine with the unmistakable light of pure terroir-driven expressiveness and are born of true love for Abruzzo.
The Region: Abruzzo
Nestled along the Adriatic coast, Abruzzo features what are arguably the most spectacular landscapes of central Italy outside of Tuscany. Abruzzo borders the region of Marche to the North, Lazio to the West/South-West, Molise to the South-East, and the Adriatic sea to the East. Abruzzo has been described as “the greenest region in Europe” dedicating almost half of its territory to national parks and nature reserves.
Abruzzo is made up of 65% mountainous terrain; its rugged geography is a part of the regions rich history. Historically, these mountains were there to help isolate the winemaking influence of the ancient Romans and Etruscans in Tuscany, dating back to six century BC. It’s rumored that when Hannibal made his journey over the Alps, he gave his soldiers Abruzzo wine from Teramo.
The terroir of Abruzzo
Abruzzo is made up of 4 provinces. Chieti, L’Aquila, Pescara, and Teramo. The vast coastline winding along the Adriatic Sea flowing into Abruzzo’s mountainous interior provides numerous microclimates and terroirs. The terroir ranges from marly-clay, sand-rich flysch, limestone soils, and alluvium deposits.
Montepulciano, the fifth most planted grape varietal in all of Italy, benefits greatly from the humidity and rainfall coming from the Apennine mountains, making the low hills and clay-rich soil a perfect place for the grapes to grow.
The cool mountain air currents combined with the high altitudes helps to control the diurnal temperature variations of the vineyards on the slopes. Along the coastline, the sea absorbs the heat during the day and releases it at night which strongly influences Abruzzo’s viticulture.
Abruzzo has around 36,000 hectares (89,000 acres) of land producing more than 350 million liters of wine annually. The majority of the vineyards are located in the hills of the Chieti province, with the rest in Pescara, Teramo, and L’Aquila. The most prominent grape varieties are the native red Montepulciano and the white Trebbiano.
The white wines of Abruzzo
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo – Harvesting this native grape in September makes it taste like warm summer sunshine and blooming flowers. The wine has a straw-yellow color, has a delicate aroma of white flowers, is well-bodied, and has a strong mineral presence on the palate. The minerality is likely due to the clay-alkaline terroir.
The red wines of Abruzzo
Montepulciano – This grape makes up the vast majority of wine in the Abruzzo region of Italy. It’s easily paired with practically any type of food, is wonderfully tannic, and low in acid. This grape varietal touches all four areas of Abruzzo’s provinces. Montepulciano can be grown in limestone and its clay terroir gives it a wonderfully rustic taste. Tasting notes in this wine are oregano, plum, sour cherries, and sometimes notes of tobacco.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – Is a Rosé wine which is darker in color than most. The distinctive cherry color gives Cerasuolo its name, literally meaning cherry in Italian. On the palate, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo has a persistent amount of mineral acidity due to the limestone and clay terroir. Other tasting notes include dried roses and red berries.
The food of Abruzzo
The Abruzzese cuisine is deeply influenced by the region's location. Simple ingredients with cultural traditions drawn from the rocky inland areas as well as from coastal areas make up the wonderfully soulful cuisine of Abruzzo
Pizza scima, which actually translates to “stupid pizza” is anything but stupid. This simple thin focaccia-like pizza is made up of flour, water, extra-virgin olive oil, and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This bread is usually used to accompany meals and pays homage to the Abruzzese pride of the Trebbiano grape varietal.
Ravioli dolci is a variation of classic ravioli made with sugar. The Abruzzese make them larger than traditional ones and stuff them with ricotta, egg yolk, sugar, lemon, and cinnamon.
Arrosticini is a must have when travelling to Abruzzo. They are wooden skewers of sheep cooked on a fornacellas, a special grill indigenous to Abruzzo. Arrosticini is traditionally eaten by hand with fresh bread and olive oil.
Author: Melissa Norton ©
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