With a description of Rioja-esque Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and some friends-of-friends reputedly buying over 300 bottles to privately ship back to the UK, our curiosity about Cantina Orlandi Contucci Ponno, situated in Roseto degli Abruzzi, had been piqued for some time. We finally got there for some wine-tasting and, if you are in the area or just want to take our word for it and buy some online, this small cantina of 55 hectares is quite extraordinary. I loved Giulia the Vineyard Manager’s description of a good wine, “meditative”, so have listed below some that would be great meditation wines!
The cantina sits 2km from the Adriatic under Roseto’s pretty old hilltop former self, Montepagano, so famous for its ancient August wine festival when its historic centre is converted into a sea of cellars for you to sample from – do recommend if you are around this time as it’s great to find out what you like and what you don’t.
Originally the family-run Orlandi Contucci Ponno owned the whole hill, farming local grapes, selling off pieces as they were needed. However, the present owner’s grandfather worked for the Italian Embassy in Paris and became Abruzzo’s first importer of Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Cabernet vines, recognising the similarities in soil types from his hillside to what is required for these classic French wines to achieve their musical drinking notes. Originally all the hand-picked grapes were processed by the local co-operative until it closed in early 2000 whereupon the farm became a cantina in the truest sense of the word and began its own small but excellent production.
Ghiaiolo – Sauvignon Blanc
With a crisp pineapple and passion-fruit bouquet that was a welcome change to Abruzzo’s usual Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, this stunning clean Abruzzo white wine is one of the best I’ve had that is locally produced. It has notes of Granny Smith apples meets green peppercorns; not too sweet but gently refreshing, it worked perfectly with the young pecorino cheese we tasted it with. Its name means little pebbles, from the composite of the soil and the local river.
Vermiglio – Cerasuolo d ‘Abruzzo D.O.C
It’s a joy to be in May with plenty of opportunity for drinking Abruzzo’s Rose, Cerasuolo over the next summer months and lazy Autumn Days. The nose on this wine transports you into a ladybug hiking about on strawberry plants; take a sip and you’re in a perfumed party with the softest exquisite summer cane fruits as your dance partners. Vermiglio had none of the hard toffee flavours that we’ve had from some other Cerasuolo, and unsurprisingly the Cantina sells out of this by Christmas each year; it is one of their bigger sellers once bottled and if you’re a fan of Rose, this should be a must-try. The couple who were tasting with us were from New Brunswick Canada and talked about how this would be perfect with local lobster which we had to agree, pared with seafood in general and you’d be onto a winner. We tasted with a soft, delicate, La Marche salami by the name of ciauscolo which worked extremely well too for those thinking pork or veal dishes.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva, Colline Teramane DOCG
This was the wine that had been tagged the “Rioja Montepulciano”; intense heady and literally changing on each sip it was quite remarkable and unlike any other Montepulciano we’ve had. With a spicy heat of black cherry meets tobacco and cinnamon that finished with an elegant blackberry and hot dark chocolate that fork any unpleasant tannins you’d normally expect from a wine of this heat and spiciness. It was something of a revelation on the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo front, so good. For those that don’t know this DOCG, it is 90% Montepulciano grape and 10% Sangiovese which is aged for 3 years – it spends 18months -2 years in oak barrels and 1 year in bottles.
Official Website Azienda Agricola Orlandi Contucci Ponno
Contact: Giulia Raggiunti to arrange tastings & sales (she speaks fluent English for those without Italian)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Tel: +39 0858 944049
Address: Localita Piani degli Ulivi 1, Roseto degli Abruzzo (Te) 64026