I will be the first to admit I had not heard of Villadoro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine until I was shopping around for something worthy of a review, but as you will soon see, I think I stumbled on the surprise of the month.
Like many wines from the rustic Abruzzo landscape, Villadoro’s deep ruby hues are a tell-tale sign of rich soil, but that’s where the commonality to other wines of the region ends. Immediately to the nose I knew this was going to be unlike others I’ve sampled because it did not have that typical fruit-driven scent. In fact, there was a strong smell of smoke and slight spice and that was all prevalent within seconds of pouring my first glass.
The Villadoro was nothing like what the label had described since it said the wine should be fruity when it was anything but that. To the contrary, it was on fuller-bodied side for an Abruzzo wine and gave off great notes of smoke and spice. there was fruit present on the palate, it was prevalent in the finish and was predominately that of black cherry and deep berry which was a great transition from a somewhat bold beginning. I thought this bottle was playing tricks on me because it was such a departure from the average regional wine and how the Montepulciano grape tends behave. Even after a few glasses and much breathing, the Villadoro still did not act as “fruity” as the label wanted me to believe and it was almost
like drinking a baby Negroamaro from Puglia.
In an extreme case of happenstance, pairing this wine with food was nothing short of serendipitous. My latest food obsession has focused on Croatia thanks to a friend from a small town that during his youth was actually part of Italy. I specifically went to a market in search of Balkan goods and the wine was a perfect match for some ajvar spread on a rustic bread and ćevapčići (pronounced “chee wap chi chi”), which is basically Croatia’s answer to the hamburger. Combine small, grilled pieces of spicy beef on bread plus ajvar – a tapenade of tomato, eggplant, garlic, vinegar, and paprika – and it’s as if this dish was made for this unique wine. Assuming you cannot find Croatian delicacies near you, do not hesitate to have this wine with meat dishes or pastas. In my opinion the Villadoro would be an amazing compliment to one of Abruzzo’s signature dishes of strozzapretti with a wild boar ragú.
Taking into account all the wonderful surprises this wine provided me in the course of an evening one might think I could not have been any happier, but I saved the best for last: I managed to find a magnum of the Villadoro 2007 for US$11.99! With all these good things stemming from just one bottle of wine, there is no excuse why you should not have this in your home.