Natural wines in Abbruzzo – Montepulciano and Trebbiano from a Pepe,

Searching Out New Wineries
There are food and wine related events in Italy every weekend. On Sunday, there was an open cellar day near San Martin in Abruzzo. Usually wineries are only open during the week. We picked a natural wine producer named Stefania Pepe and arrived around 12:00.

With a lovely graciousness and being totally unperturbed by hosting the 40 other people already sitting in her “living room” we were greeted warmly and led to a table by Stefania Pepe. Speaking in both Italian and English, she asked where we all were from and she said she was excited by our international delegation(China, Japan, USA). We started the wine tasting with a plate of home made cheese (sheep and cow), bread and salami.   We chose the tasting of older wines which included the current vintages and several older vintages of Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abbruzzo. All of the wines are produced naturally without sulfites and using only the natural yeasts on the grapes (and what is hanging around in the winery.) In general, they were very good and the older vintages were much more expressive.

So what does “more expressive” mean?  For me, more expressive means that there is something unique about the wine that sets it apart from others using the same grape.  Often it is an “odd”  taste that some feel is due to bad wine making.  That may be true for some of the less fastidious wine makers.  For most of the grower/wine makers including Stefania – you could eat off the floors of their wineries.  They are aligned with the microbiology of their vineyards and wineries, so they work with the bacteria and yeasts that influence the flavors of their wines.   They use that microbiology to “express” the unique terrior of their vineyards and that shows up in their wines.

I’ll take more time in future posts to talk about natural wines and why I am enjoying them more than 99% of the other wines that are not made in a natural way, but for now, natural wines taste more alive to me.  When I drink them, I feel more connected to the place it was made, the way it was made and the person who made it.  For those in the U.S. and Switzerland, few natural wines are available.  But in Italy, France and Germany, there are many grape growers and wine makers who made the investment in biodynamic farming and natural wine making.  I’ll post a more comprehensive list of the wine makers in each country by the end of the year.  Getting back to Stefania Pepe, her wines are only available in Italy and the UK for now unfortunately.   As her wines reflect her character, I know that more people would be interested in her message as well as her wine.

Bio-Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo vineyard

Montepulciano grapes drying in the wind for a passito wine

The wine maker, Stefania Pepe and my classmates in front of the box used for crushing white wines by foot
The barrels used for crushing red grapes by foot

 100% montepulciano d’abbruzzo made without sulfites and using only the yeast found on the grapes or in the winery

100% montepulciano d'abbruzzo produced from bio vineyards by Stefania Pepe.
A health vineyard hosts many predators…





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