I think whether or not you consider yourself a wine aficionado there will always be bottles that you remember, and for me one of these is the Capestrano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Whilst I have not enjoyed this label for a long time, when I did the other day it immediately conjured up memories. This wine is one I have shared with many friends & family, and being able to enjoy it again (on my birthday!) not only brought a smile to my face but it solidified its place in my “got-to-have” wine list as a must.
If there is one thing that I think sets Abruzzese wines apart from other regions in Italy it’s drinkability. Take it from someone who has been drinking wine longer than I would like to admit, Abruzzo is often overlooked in comparison to Tuscany (for example); but this charming and rugged province rarely produces a bad bottle. The Montepulciano grape is a sturdy one, and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is dry, slightly fruity, and while usually consumed young has softer tannins (in my personal experience many people are turned off by super-tannic wines, and most winemakers will tell you if something is too tannic then it needs to remain in the cellar for sometimes up to ten more years).
The Capestrano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from its inception was a great idea: bring great quality to wine lovers without costing them a fortune (a bottle retails between US$9 to US$12 depending on the vintage). Located at the foothills of the Gran Sasso mountains, this wine was named after the small town of Capestrano which is home to a unique microclimate of warm days and cool nights. Between the favourable growing conditions and the care used to produce this wine, it is an excellent representation of the Abruzzo-Molise tradition.
A beautiful plum colour in the glass, this 2007 wine is rather forward in its aromas of spice, dark plum, black raspberry, and other earthy notes. It does not require much aeration, but like most red wines, will benefit from it. On the palate it could almost be described as resembling fresh jam due to strong notes of dark berry balanced by natural acidity and fairly medium tannins. Black raspberry dominates the finish, but some of the spice and robust earth that first hit the nose round everything out quite nicely with each and every sip.
If you are looking for a wine that will hold up against strong foods (i.e. wild game) and grilled meats (particularly good for the summer barbecue season), then the Capestrano is an excellent choice. In very typical Abruzzo fashion I shared a feast of lamb, grilled sausage, and veal with my family, and the wine most certainly held its own. Whenever I think of this wine I can’t help but compare it to an old friend; it’s dependable, fair, and even after an absence, treats you so well you can’t ever imagine spending time apart again.