When planning our trip to Italy, there was little I wanted to do, other than spend time playing with our nephews and tasting Italian wine, not at the same time, of course (except for those times we had delicious, homemade wine with lunch, because when in Italy. . .) We weren’t sure what day trips we wanted to do from their home near Ascoli Piceno, and we talked about visiting a variety of areas, including Perugia and Abruzzo. When we realized that Abruzzo was much closer and would get us home in time for after-school snacks and fun with the kids, I instantly thought of the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Masciarelli, a wine that we first discovered at a cocktail class at The Urban Grape.
I was having a hard time making a tasting appointment with the time difference and all, but after a quick email to The Urban Grape, was on my way to being set up for a tasting and tour at Masciarelli’s winery and their hotel, Castello di Semivicoli.
After a couple of hours of driving through the Italian countryside up and down many hills, we found Castello di Semivicoli and escaped the rain inside its toasty, historic walls.
We were greeted warmly and shown around the olive oil making room, the old barrel room, and the kitchen, which the Masciarelli family left as it was found when they bought the property. It’s perfectly preserved and demonstrates what an Italian kitchen would have looked like in the past, an open fire always on for cooking and warming the home. Now, hotel guests eat breakfast in this area,
It was also where we enjoyed the perfect cappuccinos while waiting for our tasting. With rain pelting the windows, this room and the coffee, not to mention the hospitality, were beyond warm and welcoming.
One of the most fun parts of our tour was checking out the hotel’s master suite, the penthouse of the building with 360 degree views to the surrounding hills of Abruzzo. The room featured a huge soaking tub, dining table, and beautiful, minimalist design. Oh and 360 degree views of the Abruzzo countryside.
After our tour, we got down to the business of tasting beautiful, delicious, inspired wines from Masciarelli and their other label, Valori, along with fresh olive oil, cheese, and meat. Pure heaven.
In total, we tasted 20 wines, and I found myself making tons of notes and wishing I had a bigger suitcase and the ability to transport large quantities of wine back to the US. I won’t get into my tasting notes for every single one of the wines, but if you have questions, do feel free to email me.
The following were my favorites:
- Classic Line – Trebbiano d’Abruzzo – the first wine we ever tried from Masciarelli is still a favorite. I am in love with the fruit-forward peach flavors as well as the crisp acidity. This wine is an amazing value and is usually available at The Urban Grape.
- Villa Gemma Bianco – this blend of 80% Trebbiano d ‘Abruzzo ,15% Cococciola, and 5% Chardonnay was fun, not only because I never tried Cococciola before, but because this wine is incredible. The mouthfeel is creamy, and the wine itself is incredibly fragrant, offering floral notes along with apple and vanilla. Simply gorgeous.
- Marina Cvetic Chardonnay – Barrel aged in new French oak, this Chardonnay is NOT oaky. The oak imparts flavors of toasted nuts and vanilla, but floral notes and nice acid balances it all out. (Marina Cvetic is the wife of the late founder of Masciarelli, Gianni Masciarelli, and is today the main representative of the winery.
- Valori Cerasuolo 2011 – Cerasuolo means “cherry red” in Italian, and this lightly-colored wine definitely packs a cherry punch on the palate. This wine is perfect for summer but could also serve as a nice wintry rosé; it has the body to stand up to the season.
- Classic Line – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – again, you can not go wrong with the quality for price point. This deep red wine exhibits lots of dark berry flavors, a nice kick of pepper, and is luscious and smooth with a lovely long finish.
- Valori Vigna Sant’Angelo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – this wine has a bunch of stars next to it on my tasting sheet, and for good reason. It’s rich, velvety, smooth, with very noticeable flavors of stewed blackberries and cherries. It’s simply stunning.
We spent a good deal of time tasting and talking, and then our gracious host, Giulia, braved the rain to take us about eight kilometers down the road to tour the place where the magic happens, the Masciarelli winery.
Surrounded by more beautiful hills and valleys, Masciarelli’s winery is a sight to be seen. The winemaking, storing, and ageing processes are all alive and well, and it was interesting to see exactly the conditions each of the wines is made in.
For example, this room is kept at a certain humidity level by the limestone in the cages behind the barrel. The mountain behind the wall is also limestone, allowing the room to have naturally regulated temperature and humidity for optimum storage.
Tasting wine at a winery in Italy was such a treat, and it was fun to compare and contrast with other wines we tried in the region. Abruzzo and Marche, though lesser known than places like Tuscany, are making some fabulous wines at extremely good values. Next time you are looking for a bottle, grab a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.