We devoured CNN’s “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy” series featuring the actor’s trek through the farms, fields, and restaurants of Italy. The show made us want to pack our bags and follow in his footsteps. But our trek would venture where Tucci failed to go: the vineyards and wineries in each region. Wine is as critical to an Italian meal as house-made pasta or locally foraged truffles. Tucci certainly drank his way through Italy, but he almost never broke bread with a winemaker or tromped through vineyards with a grower.
While we can’t always run off to Abruzzo or Tuscany, we can approximate the experience with wine tastings paired with the proper regional food. We recently enjoyed tastings of wines from Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and Montalcino. We hope our posts will transport readers to the vineyards and wineries that Stanley Tucci forgot to visit.
PART 1 Abruzzo Wine Tasting Held at Rochambeau, Boston
Abruzzo is a small [@550 wineries] mountainous wine region in Southern Italy along the coast of the Adriatic. Think of the mirror image of Napa, Santa Barbara or Sonoma when it comes to the idyllic conditions to grow grapes and olives.
The most famous grape is the Montepulciano varietal, the second most widely-planted in Italy, behind Sangiovese. Known for its dark, concentrated plummy-black cherry & green herbal notes, better quality Montepulciano D’Abruzzo wines can feature chocolate/cocoa/fresh clove notes acquired from the oak cask aging.
Boston-area Master Sommelier Michael Meagher [above left] and Davide Acerra, from the Consorzio Abruzzo, led the tasting, which was held at French restaurant Rochambeau, an odd choice given the “provenance” of the wines. On the plus side, the organizers poured eight wines from 2018 and 2020. But there was nary a cracker or piece of bread to cleanse the palate between tastes. No cheese. No nothing. The small plates buffet arrived about 15 minute after the tasting ended and was… fine for a French restaurant. These wines are not easy sippers…they are meant to be enjoyed with food, and we were disappointed to not have that opportunity here.
Favorite wine: Agriverde, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC Riserva, Plateo, 2018; $20-$25 at Bottle of Italy.