Vito Polosa from distributor Wine Emporium NY invited me to a tasting and dinner with the wines of Vallevo, a producer in Abruzzo. I had tasted the Vallevo wines a number of years ago on a Wine Emporium sponsored press trip to Abruzzo. I really liked the wines and wanted to taste the current vintages.
Vito spoke about Abruzzo and the Vallevo wines.
Abruzzo is situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso and Majella massif. It is one of the most unspoiled regions of Italy with three national parks and more than ten national and regional natural reserves. The traditional vine training method is the tendone system also known as pergola Abruzzese. Because of its climate and historical considerations, Abruzzo is considered part of Southern Italy.
Vallevo is part of the highly acclaimed Cantina Sociale Frentana cooperative located in the town of Rocco San Giovanni in the Chieti area. It was founded in 1958 and is one of the first social agricultural cooperatives in Abruzzo. Today there are more than 500 wine makers and 1,000 acres of vineyards associated with the cooperative. Only 15% of the production is bottled, the rest is sold as bulk wine to other producers. The bottled wine comes from the best 100 producers and they are paid more for their grapes. All the wines are made from certified organic grapes.
The picture on the label is of a trabocco, a characteristic site in this part of Abruzzo. Fishermen traditionally built these wooden piers topped with a shed that jut far out from the shore from which to catch fish. Today some have been turned into restaurants. I had an excellent fish dinner at Trabocco Punta Cavalluccio and it was like eating on a boat, but without the waves.
Costa Dei Trabocchi Abruzzo Pecorino made from 100% Pecorino from vineyards in the municipality of Rocco San Giovanni at 150 meters with a northern exposure. Soil is of medium texture sand and loam. Harvest is the first week of September. The grapes are soft pressed and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and in bottle until it is ready for release. The wine is bottled in the spring following the harvest. This is a well balanced wine with good structure and the right amount of acidity. It has hints of peaches, lime, lemon, grapefruit and a touch of almond.
Pecorino is an ancient grape variety which was “rediscovered” in the early 1980’s. The name in Italian is “little sheep” because the sheep liked to eat the grapes off the vines.
Costa Dei Trabocchi Rosato Terre Di Chieti IGT Made from 70% Montepulciano and 30% Merlot. The soil is of medium texture, with some clay and limestone. The vineyard is situated on hills overlooking the Trabocchi Coast with a northeast exposure at 150 to 200 meters. Vinification is with a Provencal technique without pressing in temperature controled stainless steel tanks. Skin contact is only for 3 hours but the wine remains on the lees for 2 weeks in steel tanks to capture the flavor of the grapes. The must is stirred for about one week at 5C. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Aging is in steel followed by a few months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of strawberries and raspberries a touch of grapefruit and a note of watermelon.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The soil is muddy clay. After pressing and destemming, fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 7 to 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in stainless steel until it is ready to be bottled. This is a fruity, medium bodied wine with hints of plum, black cherry, and violets with a touch of black olives and herbal notes.
The Montepulciano grape produces Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is the most planted grape in Abruzzo and is grown on about 17,000 hectares. It represents 80% of the total DOC wine produced in Abruzzo. The Montepulciano grape has been in Abruzzo since the mid-17th Century.
Costa Dei Trabocchi Montepulciano Dei Abruzzo DOC Riserva made from 100% Montepulciano from Rocco San Giovanni on the best-situated hills overlooking the Costa dei Trabocchi. The soil is medium texture, mostly clay and the vines are 10-15 years old. The exposure is south, southeast. The grapes are soft pressed and fermentation takes place in stainless steel with skin contact for 10 to 15 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged in 500 liter barrels of Allier oak for about 14 months, then in steel, and finally in bottle until it is ready for release. This is a full bodied wine that has aromas and flavors of violets, plums and black cherry with a hint of vanilla.