The powerhouse grape that is perhaps too prolific for its own good. Montepulciano grows so successfully in the Abruzzo climate that for generations much of the farming has been focused on volume first, quantity over quality. Many great Abruzzese producers, as well as in neighboring Adriatic regions Marche and Molise, now experiment with their own combinations of clonal selection and unique vineyard management techniques. At the very least they’ve proven there is no single correct path to success. Montepulciano has proven it can handle strength and extraction just as it can show finesse and elegance; it can be made to be enjoyed young as much as it can age beautifully.
The Quercia farm project is a communal effort started 20 years ago by four friends in the wine industry. Elisabetta, Antonio, Fabio and Luca worked together in the 1980s for a large production winery, and each brought their own set of skills along when they decided to go into business together. They took over a small winery cellar called La Quercia along with its 30 acres of vineyards and olive groves located on a windy hillside above the Adriatic Sea in the Morro d’Oro province of Teramo. The vines are mainly dedicated to the king of Abruzzo – Montepulciano – with smaller plantings of Montonico, Trebbiano, Passerina, and Pecorino. The fertile clay soils of this “golden” area are well regarded here, and the bountiful organic farm also produces their own salami, bread, vegetables, olive oil, and cheeses. The name “La Quercia” is Italian for oak tree, a symbol they feel connotes the beauty, strength, longevity and majesty of the vines, and the character that they strive for in their wines. The Montepulciano is kept at very low yields in order to extract the deepest expression of the grape, and the wine is aged for several years for more concentration.
Inky teeth-staining purple goodness grapeness! As concentrated as Cabernet, as fruity as an old vine Zin, and as jam-packed with blackberry eucalyptus as a Shiraz, this is definitely a shebang of a mouthful! The full-bodied fleshy texture is all boysenberry fruit and raw demerara sugar, with aromatic juniper berry and a sprinkling of celery salt acidity. Powerful precision with all that oversized fruit character is wrapped up neatly with a velvety cocoa powder tannin bow.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was one of Italy’s first DOCs established in 1968, and the Riserva designation is only used for wines aged more than two years in cellar.