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This is the second part of a series on my recent trip to Abruzzo and Rome to Masciarelli Winery. See Part One Here, Part Two Here

Driving around the countryside in Abruzzo is magical. Everywhere I looked I got the feeling that nature was slowly reclaiming the landscape, that the people here were intimately connected to their surroundings, rather than seeking to dominate them.

After a brief nap I sat down to enjoy a glass of the 2009 Masciarelli Trebbiano di Abruzzo in the tasting room at Castello di Semivicoli, I was surprised by it’s acidity and the presence of an underlying mineral tone. I have often in the past thought of Trebbiano as potentially round, creamy, and flabby – but this was a food wine.

As we enjoyed our glasses, we were joined by Angela Acquaviva – a beautiful soul with a large smile, Angela was eager to show us a local festival that just so happened to be occurring on our way to dinner.IMG_5898

A union of a pagan bonfire festival fashioned into a celebration of the Immaculate Conception, Lu Fucaracce was a local party with jovial participants.IMG_5924

We were invited back into the tent along side nearby grilling sausages and hanging meats (we entered a prosciutto lottery) before the igniting of a towering bonfire; this was a tradition that was being revived – a harvest time celebration featuring an inferno of olive cuttings and branches.

In the tent we were given a hushed pre-taste of some local wine in large white jugs. Here began my re-education of Montepulciano; with this first sip I realized that I may have completely misunderstood this grape.IMG_5922

At it’s most basic this wine can be marvelous – firm with tight acidity, smooth body, and generous fruit. Deep and inky, but almost tasting like a wine made with whole grape fermentation, I kept looking in my plastic cup wondering what I was drinking.

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I was eager to try more when the starry night sky began erupting with a symphony of fireworks, a local accordion troupe, and the aforementioned inferno which warmed everyone, even from a considerable distance. 

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Down the road we were treated to dinner, my first sit down meal in Italy at La Sorgenta Pizzeria and Enotecca – a beautiful establishment recognized by the Gambero Rosso for it’s Pizza quality. IMG_5984

As someone that works daily with Italian food and wine, I was certainly blown away by the quality, hospitality, and taste of the food here. IMG_5988

The biggest surprise of the night for me was the 2012 Masciarelli Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This same wine I had tasted earlier came alive in the glass with the 2012 vintage. Vibrant crisp fruit and even more of the aforementioned acidity, a wine that begs for food and is not violated by the overuse of oak – a clean statement of the grape that worked incredibly well with our first course.

Anytime I go anywhere where someone asks me, “Do you like liver?” I tend to get excited, but the food here was just top notch. A highlight was the liver and spinach pizza with citrus zest, simply fantastic flavors. The olive oil here also a big standout for me, so fresh and peppery with heady aromatics.

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My favorite course might have been the simplest – a Bufala Affumicata e Prosciutto San Daniele, the ham cured for 18 months and the cheese smoked. At first bite I paused and thought – we most certainly are in Italy. The bread was light, airy and crispy, soaking up the olive oil perfectly maintaining crunch and chew.

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Stay tuned for more on the wines and the countryside of Abruzzo!

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