Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo tasting report: the best wines from recent vintages

All the wines were tasted by Raffaele Mosca in Abruzzo in March 2024.

FIVE STARS *****

Bossanova

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane Il Bossa 2022

Natural wine producer 

Undergoing spontaneous fermentation in concrete, followed by brief aging in oak casks, Il Bossa is a perfect example of new wave Montepulciano emphasizing juiciness and drinkability rather than sheer power and fruit opulence. Leather, damp earth and iron frame luscious black cherries, mirabelle plums and pot-pourri, leading to an irresistibly juicy progression, with racy tannins upfront, followed by a mouthwatering mix of plump red fruits, minerals, and earthy touches, lingering on a moreish finish.  

Importers and retailers: Critical Mass Selections (California, US)

Cirelli

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Anfora 2021

Natural wine producer 

Licorice, blackcurrants and violets mingle with cedar, iron and black olives, anticipating a linear mouthfeel with slightly angular tannins complementing freshly picked bramble fruits and visciola cherries, savory minerals and a bitter orange tang energizing a youthfully racy yet pure and poised finish.  The pioneer of amphora-aged wine in Abruzzo, Francesco Cirelli manages fermentation and maturation in such vessels in a way that enriches the texture of his wines without compromising their juiciness and liveliness.  

Importers and retailers: Zev Rovine Selections (United States) / The Great Wine Co. (UK)

Emidio Pepe

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo 2020

Cult winery 

A superstar vigneron, Emidio Pepe has always been fond of concrete aging, maintaining it is the key to making age-worthy Montepulciano. His wines are known for lasting over 30 years, so the 2020 Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is only at the beginning of a long path. 

Dark and impenetrable, it slowly unveils deep aromas of pomegranate, licorice, black olives, animal musk, and scorched earth. The palate is youthfully tight yet layered and pure, with crunchy black fruits on a bed of dusty tannins, iodine and dark spice lingering on a long, multifaceted finish.

Importers and retailers: Oliver McCrum (United States) / The Living Vine (Canada)

FOUR STARS PLUS **** +

Abbazia di Propezzano

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane 2021 

Up-and-coming winery 

Anise, dark spice and a lick of chocolate mingle with sweet morello cherry and pot–pourri. Almost a bit Sangiovese-like in terms of raciness and vibrancy, with varietal black fruits complemented by blood orange and spicy herbs, this complex Colline Teramane will show best with a bit of cellaring. Abbazia di Propezzano is a magnificent abbey-winery in the heart of Colline Teramane. The wine spent 20 months in large oak casks.

Importers and retailers:

Cataldi Madonna

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Tonì 2021

Cult winery 

An iconic wine from a benchmark producer in the province of L’ Aquila, spending one year in 25 hl oak casks and another year in bottle, Tonì owes its peculiar profile to the extreme continental climate of the Tirino river valley, which lies right below the only glacier in Abruzzo. It is strikingly perfumed, displaying aromas of redcurrant yogurt, wild roses, cinnamon, and botanical herbs. Equally supple on the palate, lively acidity cuts through luscious layers of slightly candied red fruits, while seamless tannins and a herbal touch linger on the airy finish. 

Importers and retailers: Vias Imports (United States) / Astrum (UK) 

Fattoria Nicodemi

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane Neromoro Riserva 2020

Cult winery 

The top-shelf of this highly successful boutique winery, Neromoro is a modern expression of Montepulciano, blending sweet plummy fruit and exotic florals with menthol, dark spice, licorice, and a chocolatey touch. Then glossy strawberries and syrupy Amarena cherries are complemented by ripe acids and energetic tannins, making for a bold, slightly oak-accented but well-calibrated progression. Aging occurred in a mix of new and used French oak barrels for approximately 18 months.

Importers and retailers: Regal Wine Imports (United States)

Inalto

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Campo Affamato 2020

Up-and-coming winery 

The moderately saturated color anticipates a restrained and refined nose of dark chocolate, crunchy blackcurrants, animal musk, and botanical herbs. Pure and polished, balsam herbs and a chocolatey touch complicate the supple core of blackberries and dark cherries, while mouth-tingling acidity and a mineral tang enliven the long and deceptively light finish. Sourced from a 30-year-old vineyard, fermentation with pied de cuve in stainless steel was followed by 14 months’ aging in 20 hl tonneau.

Importers and retailers: Vinity Wine Company (United States)

Camillo Montori

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane Fonte Cupa Riserva 2019

Cult winery 

Dark and mulchy, pine resin, cedarwood and black pepper superimpose over blackberries and iron. Dusty tannins and intense salinity make for an energetic mouthfeel, with subdued black fruits supporting the progression, hints of campfire ash and undergrowth complicating a slightly tertiary finish. A timeless classic from one of the pioneers of quality Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo.

Importers and retailers: Well Crafted Wine & Beverage Co. (United States) 

Illuminati

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane Zanna Riserva 2018

Big winery 

From a 60-year-old vineyard in Controguerra, one of the most important townships in the Colline Teramane area, Zanna is one of the best classically-styled Montepulciano Riserva – bold and muscular but still retaining excellent freshness and grip. Aged in large French oak, it bursts with syrupy red cherry, undergrowth, dark chocolate, sweet spice, and tar. Large-scaled but light on its feet, ripe acidity and smooth tannins complement mouthflilling layers of sweet black fruits, leading to a long and velvety finish. Illuminati is one of the longest-running private wineries in Abruzzo. 

Importers and retailers: Banville Wine Merchants (United States) 

FOUR STARS ****

Barone Cornacchia

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane Vizzarro Riserva 2019

Up-and-coming winery 

The flagship wine of a long-running producer that has recently shifted towards low-intervention winemaking, Vizzarro displays attractive aromas of cherry marmalade, red roses and cinnamon mingling with balsam herbs and dark spice. Chiseled tannins frame a luscious core of succulent red fruits, while savory echoes and a whiff of oak spice linger on the velvety finish. Made with organic grapes and fermented spontaneously in stainless steel, it spent 30 months in French oak barrels. 

Importers and retailers: Ideal Wine & Spirits (United States)

Caprera

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Le Vasche 2020 

Natural wine producer 

Spending 12 months in stainless and a few more months in bottle, Le Vasche is just a bit funky at first, opening up to pungent spice and brine that give way to ripe blackcurrants and a mulchy touch. Reductive aging allows the fruit to shine, and what you get is an irresistible flow of crunchy bramble fruits complemented by invigorating acids and a peppery touch. Animal undertones hint at the raw winemaking style, extending the medium-long finish.

Importers and retailers:

Citra

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Teate Ferzo 2020

Big winery

One of the selections in the portfolio of the largest cooperative in Abruzzo, Ferzo spends about 10 months in French oak barrels. The oak influence, however, is barely perceptible: the nose exhibits aromas of sweet blackberries and plums, with violets, herbs, and a lick of cocoa in the background. Seamless tannins and mild acids make for a velvety progression with a clear-cut finish. 

Importers and retailers: Frederik Wilman (US) / BC Liquor (British Columbia, Canada)

De Melis

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Bardasce 2022

Up-and-coming winery

Licorice, black pepper and quinine complicate earth-tinged blackberries. Plump and easygoing, crunchy bramble fruits take center stage on the palate, lifted by bright acids and amplified by a spicy twist. Wild fermentation was followed by brief aging in stainless steel.

Importers and retailers:

Podere San Biagio

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo 2019

Natural wine producer 

An uncompromising expression of Montepulciano, displaying the slightest hint of gamey funkiness that gives way to distinctive aromas of pot-pourri, paprika, and soy sauce. Similar flavors echo on the palate, framing a mid-weight core of plump black fruits, and lingering on a savory finish with just a touch of tannic dryness. Fermentation and aging in large oak casks were carried out in a hard-knocks minimalist fashion, with no filtering and only minimal additions of sulfur. 

Importers and retailers: RPS Wine Imports (United States) 

Tenuta I Fauri

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Vigna Santa Cecilia Riserva 2020

Up-and-coming winery 

Strikingly fruity and fresh for a riserva, with whiffs of chocolate, undergrowth and spice framing cherry marmalade. The palate is gorgeously plump and fruit-driven – deceptively smooth yet possessing enough saline energy to pucker your cheeks.  The only oaked wine in the lineup of a winery that heavily relies on stainless steel and concrete to craft juicy and gluggable wines, it underwent fermentation in concrete with 10-12 day-long skin contact, followed by 18 months’ aging in a mix of barrels, tonneaux, and ovoidal casks. 

Importer and retailers: Wineberry America (New York, US) / Girasole Imports (California, US) / Tre Amici Wines (Canada) 

Tenuta Terraviva

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teramane 2022 

Natural wine producer 

Farming steep ridges overlooking the Adriatic sea biodynamically, the Topi family crafts cutting-edge wine such as this bright and juicy Montepulciano that spent 12 months in concrete before. A bit reductive at first, tangy aromas of tapenade and dried herbs mingle with earth-tinged red cherries and an earthy whiff. Mid-weight, fruit-forward and gluggable but still endowed with the signature savory energy of the wines of Colline Teramane, this is the epitome of new wave Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo.

Importers and retailers: Colette Imports (United States) 

Tommaso Olivastri

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo La Grondaia 2020

Up-and-coming winery 

An unoaked Montepulciano from pergola-trained vineyards in the province of Chieti, La Grondaia displays hearty aromas of candied black cherries, scorched earth, leather, and Mediterranean herbs. Characterful – if slightly rustic – the tannins are a bit astringent but the fruit is rich enough to keep everything in balance. Spicy herbs and smoke echo on the medium-long finish.


Importers and retailers: Colline d’ Italia (United States)

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