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The heartwarming 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo by Emidio Pepe

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My last visit to Emidio Pepe took place last July: Hot sun, good wine and good food marked my journey at that time.


Today the weather is gloomy, and the Italian government has just imposed new restrictions to avoid a surge in COVID-19 cases. So nothing better to do than relive those days spent in Abruzzo visiting wineries by tasting one of the special wines of the region: Emidio Pepe’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. In July, I tasted great vintages such as 2001, 2010 and 2015. Those were all outstanding wines, but the 2015 came across a bit too young. It’s a wine that I recommend cellaring for years.

I came back Rome with a few bottles, and today I finally decided to open one of them: the 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. As I unpopped it, I seriously hoped that the evocative power of the wine would bring me back to that emotionally intense and cheerful experience.

Fermentation occurs in concrete tanks (vitrified by law). Emidio Pepe and his daughters are in favor of vitrification, as it protects the wine from micro-impurities that could negatively influence it. Needless to say, the vinification is completely carried out with indigenous yeasts, and the pressing of grapes is the traditional one done with bare feet. After bottling, the wine is left to age in the cellar for a period ranging from few months to several years. In case of bottles that are kept aside for a long time before being sold, the bottle is opened, filled and recapped, and the year of filling is printed on the cork. For instance, the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008 I opened went through this process in 2019.

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This wine went beyond my already high expectations. The colour already filled my heart. Here are my tasting notes:

Intense blood red. I expect a bit of reduction upon opening – as often the case with wines by Pepe – but this time, the wine immediately offers an enthralling, intoxicating bouquet. Clear and clean aromas of blood orange and blackberry, blood notes, flashes of ash give way to underbrush, musk and wet leaves, hints of cloves, and nuance of eucalyptus.

On the palate, the wine is powerful and elegant: it captures attention and requires concentration. The mouthfeel envelops the tongue with gentle harmony. Firm acidity backbones the progession until the end along with a savory return. Aromas of blood orange and medicinal herbs echo on the long finish. The tannins are extremely elegant and contribute to increase the majesty of this wonderful wine, which brings me straight back to Torano Nuovo and to that fantastic experience.

What can I say… thank you Emidio Pepe, thank you Abruzzo!

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