COVID-19 Travels through my Glass

Ah, 2020, what an unexpected journey you’ve been. This summer, I was supposed to take a couple of trips, including a wine trip to Abruzzo in Italy. Luckily, I can still travel through a wine glass and hopefully go next year. I chose Italo Pietrantonj Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo rosé 2017 for the occasion.

Abruzzo is located in central Italy, on the east coast, and stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea, on a mostly mountainous and wild terrain. Its immediate neighbors in central Italy are Marche to the north, Lazio to the west and southwest, and Molise to the southeast.

Abruzzo is home to one DOCG—Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane—and three DOC wine designations. The red and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and the white wine appellation Trebbiano d’Abruzzo are the most notable, followed by the lesser-known Controguerra.

With records dating back to 1791, and an official start in 1830, the house of Italo Pietrantonj is one of the oldest wineries from Abruzzo. Eight winemaking generations deep, the Pietrantonj family has a deep heritage and tradition. The winery is now run by two sisters, Roberta and Alice, whose great-great-great grandfather Nicola was the first certified winemaker in the Abruzzo region, gaining a diploma from the Royal School of Conegliano Veneto in 1889. The estate farms just over 60 hectares of estate vineyards high up rolling hills of the Apennine Mountains. To this day, the house shows off its 9,500 gallon oak and walnut barrels from 1870, and two 37,000 gallon tanks lined with beautiful Murano tiles that were built in 1893.

The estate vineyards lie in the area between Vittorito and Corfinio, at elevations ranging between 350 and 400 meters. The vines enjoy exposure to sunlight, while the local terroirs receive lots of ventilation and experience significant temperature differences between day and night, thanks to the nearby Sirente, Maiella, and Morrone mountains that surround the Valle Peligna.

The soils, which are medium textured, are primarily clay but rich in organic material. These conditions, markedly different from those in the plains or next to the coast, decisively favor the ripening process of the grapes, developing and concentrating the aromatic compounds and keeping acidity levels high.

This 2017 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a classically styled rosé and the grapes (which are 100% Montepulciano) are solely sourced from the Collina Tesa vineyard. After a very gentle pressing, the juice is only macerated for 12-16 hours with the skins to achieve a pink cherry hue.

Pouring the glass, I was immediately drawn to the watermelon Jolly Rancher color (totally not WSET language, I know). The nose was more on the intense side with ripe strawberries, red cherries, and an earthy quality to it. It was on the drier side with red fruit and some structure, medium acidity, and a medium finish. It was definitely a different kind of rosé that I can see standing up to some interesting pairings—fresh and light enough to pair with seafood and complex enough to go with pork tacos. It was fun to taste. I paired it with hopes of travel in 2021. You can get a bottle at 305 Wines for $13.99.

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