Isarco, Alto-Adige, Italy 2019
Practicing Organic

KERNER [kER-nur]

A white grape variety that is actually a cross breed between Riesling (yum!) and a very light skinned red grape called Vernatsch (or Schiava, also yum!) Kerner is one of a few successful Riesling hybrids from Germany and, as you might imagine, is easily recognized by it’s delightfully floral aromatics. But beyond the nose, what makes this grape truly unique is the slightly textured finishing grip (from the Schiava side of the family tree, of course..)

If you can imagine the narrow Isarco Valley bookended by terraced vineyards, it’s really easy to understand that land ownership is a complicated subject at best. What little developable space there is lies between steep inclined terrain, pointed straight up into the Alps. So it is no wonder that Gunther Kershbaumer runs out of wine, he just doesn’t have enough vines. His white wines are sought after and gobbled up quickly as there are many that consider them to be some of the best in Italy. 

Sometimes it’s the easy drinkers that bring joy to people’s palates, and so often Kerners fall gently into that category. This wine, by contrast, is a mineral forward karate kick Kerner where Sancerre faces off with Kamptall. Think of mountain spring water rolling over granite and flint topped up with lemongrass and touches of grapefruit skins and beeswax. Ripping crunchy acidity that work over the salivary glands, but with a just sweet kiss of guava on the finish. 


Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy 2019

PECORINO [pek-or-EE-no]

In a mass confusion of interplanted, interrelated white varieties, Cocci Grifoni decided to dedicate himself to finding a grape that better expressed his land and climate. Then he heard about an 80 year old farmer in Aquata del Tronto who owned an abandoned vineyard perched at 1000 meters above sea level planted entirely to a forgotten variety called Pecorino. The result is now a fabulous range of producers working with the grape and discovering just where it can go. It continues to show fabulous promise due to the fact that it retains acidity well in heat, and flaunts minerality and herbaceousness. 

Francesco Cirelli graduated from studying business and finance but abruptly changed course right out of college when he heard the call to return to his homeland in Abruzzo and put his farmer roots into the soil. In 2003 he bought a parcel of land in the midst of a biological preserve and established “La Collina Biologica,” an agricultural institute dedicated to studying sustainable, organic farming in the hills of Pescara. The farm spans over 50 acres with only 14 acres planted to vineyards, and just a tiny parcel of 5 acres are dedicated to Pecorino. The rest of the land is lush with wheat, legumes, cereals, olive groves, pastures, and plenty of geese.  The soils are sandy clay on limestone, and Francesco feels the calcareous crust lends acidity and finesse to his wines. He states as matter-of-fact as you can get: 

“My goal is to make wine that will reflect the features of the terroir as much as possible, which will tell the story of a particular crop, climate, our soils. And everything else does not interest me.”

As clear and transparent as the winemaker’s vision, this wine walks the line between utter mineral and fruitfulness. There’s both a bright green herbaceousness and a limestone crunch, like salted fried parsley teetering on top of a hearty helping of floral beeswax and white nectarine flesh. Pecorino at its heart is all about texture and that is clearly on display here. The salted stone crunchiness is somehow so reminiscent of stone fruit on a summer day, like a just-ripe peach on a beach boardwalk.

Pecorino shares its name with the ultra-famous dry cheese, but both take their name from the Italian word for sheep. The local legend goes that winemakers know the grapes are ripe when the sheep come down from pasture and start to munch on them.


Loreto Aprutino, Abruzzo, Italy 2017

TREBBIANO  [treb-bee-AH-noh]

Trebbiano Abruzzese is the official name for this particular grape. Trebbiano is as confusing as it gets, as there are dozens of distinct varieties that carry the name  throughout the country. In fact, the Trebbiano family of grapes accounts for about a third of all the white wine produced in Italy. It’s success is simply explained- incredibly high yielding, and unrivaled resistance to disease. Basically, it is really easy to grow, making it a superior clone when compared to so many others. 

The Amorotti cellar is a subterranean maze of bricks and stones carved underneath the family’s abode in the middle of the ancient medieval village of Loreto Aprutino. The underground cellar also neighbors the infamous Azienda Valentini, whose patriarch, the late Eduardo Valentini, created one of Italy’s most sought-after wines – his Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Eduardo had ripped out what he called ‘characterless Trebbiano Tuscana’ and replaced his vineyards with the local Abruzzese variety. He then proceeded to blow people’s minds with the complexity and age worthiness of his microscopic production. Amorotti’s founder Gaetano Carboni studied under his famous neighbor Eduardo, the master of Trebbiano, and since 2016 has continued in his stead with his own label, Amorotti.  He farms his Montepulciano and Trebbiano Abruzzese vineyards organically, high up in the hills of Abruzzo in chalky-clay soils, and he makes his wines in a natural and reductive style. He ferments and ages this Trebbiano in untoasted barrels for one year.

As rich as liquid gold, the color is butterscotch and dried leaves. The lightly reductive toast on the nose is like a tea light in a jack-a-lantern, a roasted and rich flinty hint of Burgundy that will baffle anyone who has ever felt nebulous about Trebbiano. The oh-so rare combination of patient winemaking process and world class fruit pays off here. Floating along beneath all the roasted almond character is a bloom of chamomile flowers, a smear of mandarin marmalade, and a pop of under ripe kumquats, all dipped in a melted brie cheese. 

No relation at all, but amoretti means ‘a bunch of cupids.’ That’s amore.


Loreto Aprutino, Abruzzo, Italy 2018



A separate DOC since 2010, the rosé (rosato) style of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is labeled as Cerasuolo which means “cherry-red” and relates to the deep color the wine gets even with very brief skin-contact with the highly pigmented skins of the Montepulciano grape. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo does not get the credit it deserves, as the rosés of fashion these days are far more akin to white wines than they are red. The opposite is true here. Most quality Cerasuolo acts and feels like a chilled red wine and comes with the major bonus of being far more versatile when pairing with food. The Torre dei Beati ‘Rosa-ae’ was named ‘Pink Wine of the Year’ last vintage. Well earned respect!

The vineyards of Torre dei Beati lie at the feet of the tallest mountain in all of the Apennines, a stunning massif that reaches almost 10,000 ft high and aptly named the Gran Sasso, “the great stone.”  In the shadow of this big rock, the vines experience both warm wind whipping up from the Adriatic sea, and cold air sinking from the mountain at night, especially later in the harvest when the Gran Sasso is snow-sprinkled. The 30 acres of Montepulciano, Pecorino and Trebbiano were first planted in 1972 in the clay and limestone soils of Loreto Aprutino. But it took almost 30 years for the family to make wine from their own fields, when Fausto Albanesi and Adriana Galasso converted the old farmhouse into a winery cellar.  


Today they are outspoken believers in organic viticulture and they maintain the old style of vine training, the high curtain of canopy called “pergola abruzzese.”  The fanciful name  “Torre dei Beati” or Tower of the Blessed, comes from a medieval fresco in a local church which dates back to the 14th century. The mural depicts the judgment of souls who must prove their worthiness before entering heaven, just as the couple feels that their grapes must pass their judgment to make the wine.


‘Provence pale’ be damned! There is just nothing shy about this blush, from the lustrous scarlet color to the fistful of fresh-cut strawberries in the nose. This is a rosato molto rosato, as ruby as they come. All kinds of red fruits burst from this cheerful cherry-full cerasuolo: strawberry fruit roll-up, pickled rhubarb, clove spice pomegranate sauce, with a confectionary waxiness like swedish-fish and a hint of serrano pepper. It finishes with a dash of perfectly lingering alpine amaro spices.