Thanks to the recommendation of a friend in the wine business I had ventured out many times with the name of Nicodemi on my list of “to buy” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, but hadn’t come across it. I guess I should have subscribed to the old adage “good things come to those who wait”, which, after finally trying a bottle is definitely true.
With the winery located in Notaresco in the province of Teramo, the brother and sister team of Alessandro and Elena Nicodemi have recently restructured how they make the wines they sell worldwide. Now under the appellation of DOCG their wines enjoy the benefit of being labeled as “certified organic” and unlike most other bulk producers in Abruzzo, have scaled back production to ensure a higher quality over just quantity. The hills in this part of Abruzzo are rich in clay and rather chalky, but the family’s vineyards sit at 900-feet above sea level where the grapes grow during warm days and cool nights, in turn allowing for the single varietal wine to have its distinctive fruit-forward taste and fairly bold tannic qualities.
Unlike a lot of other Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines I have had, this one had a lot more presence from the start: even to the nose it was easy to sense that this wine wanted to be noticed. A deep ruby colour — nearly purple — in combination with the earthy qualities at first inspection could almost make one think this was a Sangiovese. The front of each sip brought about lovely notes of blackberry and some slight ripe raspberry, but with this came a smoky quality and nuances of pepper in the back that counteracted the berry sweetness perfectly.
I used the phrase “good things come to those who wait” not simply because I have been searching for this wine for a few months, but more so because it serendipitously coincided with a food craving I had for my favourite Autumn dish: Spaghetti all’Amatriciana. The smoky and salty nature of the guanciale with the ripe plum tomatoes in the pasta sauce worked beautifully with the wine and seemed to be quite the logical pairing. Priced at US$12.99 per bottle the Nicodemi Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a value – it cost half the price of the guanciale I needed to cook the dish!– and made for a very Abruzzese night in my home. If you are a fan of sturdy, medium-bodied reds with absolute balance, then I highly suggest always keeping a few bottles of the Nicodemi in your home, too.