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Snow & Wine Guelfi Style

by Roddy Newlands

Wine Tasting in Santo Stefano

Our short break from Bascianella during the winter of 2007 in the Santo Stefano of Sextantio Albergo Diffuso was somewhat ruined by the both of us developing typically idiosyncratic dis-eases. However, the whole experience was enriched by the wonderful time we had sampling Montepulciano d’ and a white wine, Le scuderie del cielo, courtesy of said hotel, as part of their “di Neve di Vino” series of evenings.

On tap (almost) the evening we attended were a selection of wines from the Filomusi Guelfi vineyard, a long-established Abruzzo family from Tocco di Casauria in Abruzzo, with a reputation for developing fine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine.

The tasting took place in one of the excellent traditional stone buildings in the village, a cosy fire blustering away in one corner, the moody ambiance of candlelight, all adding to a sense of reverence that one could not hope for in a larger more corporate event.

Signor Lorenzo Filomusi Guelfi, courtesy of DN.no, vinguidenA cheerful initial introduction by one (I think) of the hotel reps was followed by a far more sombre & lengthy one by a “dottori”,or sommelier, of wine… Fascinating I am sure, I think there was some mention of an amazing alchemy blending the three primary elements using soley the vineyard’s own grapes in some different exciting method…but after half an hour my own already feeble ability to internally translate from Italian was completely diminished and the subtle torment of the quietly opening bottles of wine was almost unbearable.

When finally then this had finished and yet another introduction announced I almost had to catch Samantha mid-swoon (she blamed it on seasonal illness rather than ennui) – however, this talk proved to be far more invigorating, given by the owner of the vineyard, Signor Filomusi Guelfi himself, a man obviously impassioned by his experiments in winemaking (he is very much hands on throughout the process apparently), and a joy to listen to albeit in our case not completely understand… Bottle of Guelfi's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

The wine sampled consisted of a vino bianco, Sam’s favourite of the eve, alas the exact details are unknown! I think it was called Le scuderie del cielo.  However, this wine was something of a revelation; delicate floral nose, with a fine long-continuing taste. This was followed by two varieties of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one a recent variety, the other, if memory serves, an older “riserva” [dates unknown, sorry], both of which were warm, flavoursome, the riserva with a stronger fruity, spicy and earthy essence, pleasantly acidic.

Generous helpings of the former of these reds, and sadly only trickles of the latter, proved wondrously medicinal and bolstered us for the rest of the night. Luisa of Albergo Diffuso has promised to send us the schedule for the 2008 “di neve di vino” soon, and we will publish it here as soon as it arrives.

Further Reading:

[For all our Norwegian readers] DagensNæringsliv –  Kongen av Abruzzo

Stockists & Outlets: Italy: Marc de Grazia Selections USA: Union Square Wines