Do you consider Abruzzo a Southern Italian region? Well technically yes, but I consider it more central rather than Southern.
When I first started importing Italian wines to Australia, I knew I had to focus on not just the top end dollar wise of importing, but also look at importing wines that offered value for money but still with a sense of regionality. I was not interested in importing cheap Italian Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz or Chardonnay. What is the point, you might as well buy them from Australia.I was more looking for native varieties from each region that I could buy and sell to retail in Australia for under $20 a bottle.
Fast forward five years and we have been able to do this and build a strong reputation for Mondo Imports in Australia for offering Southern Italian wines from native varieties grown in the region they originate.
So for Abruzzo, it is Montepulciano and Trebbiano. For these grape varieties we chose to work with the guys from Gran Sasso and now looking back at it, it was one of the best decisions we have ever made. They are forward thinking, promote indigenous varieties and are willing to plant and promote these wines around the world.
The 2010 vintage of the Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has just been released and already wine journalists like Gary Walsh and Jane Faulkner have been blown away by the quality of this wine for $10 a bottle.
Below is Gary Walsh from The Wine Front take on this wine:
Yes, that’s right, it’s now sealed with a screwcap. Importer: Mondo Imports
I put this under the nose of my wife, who, it has to be said, is one of the fussiest wine drinkers around, and she liked it immediately. That’s an achievement in itself, and then I told her the price. Amazement. Anyway, I gave it a quick run before dinner formally and with dinner informally (I took off my tasting bow tie) and it impressed me twice.
Blood plum, nuts, licorice and some chocolate on a middle weight palate that delivers plenty of flavour along with attractive chewiness and freshness. The length is particularly impressive and closes with a desirable Italianate bitterness, like chicory or similar. Is it the best release of Gran Sasso to date? I suspect so. I defy you to find a more interesting, savoury wine with modest alcohol and food friendliness at the price. If you do, please let me know. It’s ever so slightly better than a 90 point wine, so I’m rounding up. Drink : 2012 – 2016 $10.99 91 points Gary Walsh, The Wine Front
On radio 3AW last week, Jane Faulkner challenged the audience to find a better $10 red in the Australian market. A big call but one that has merit.
Last year in Abruzzo we tried this wine in tank and it looked good. Once stocks arrived in December and I tried the finished product in bottle it was obvious that this wine was something else and each bottle I have had either with family or friends has put a smile on my face.
Whilst I have around 10,000 bottles of this wine in our warehouse, I have already emailed Italy for another 12,000 bottles to be prepared for shipment in a couple of weeks. I will most likely need to do the same in a months time.
The last time this happened for our company was for the first vintage of Gran Sasso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which was 2008. In the end, we sold around 150,000 bottles of this vintage and once more samples go out to more journalists in Australia I can see the domino effect happening.
Below is a bit of information and history about Gran Sasso.
The Gran Sasso vineyards are situated among the hills in the provinces of Chieti and Teramo in the region of Abruzzo while the beautiful modern winery is located in the town of Ortona. Abruzzo is located in the central eastern part of Italy on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The unique position of the vineyards allows them to benefit from the sea and mountain breezes, producing wines that are full in body and truly represent the characteristics of the region.
Valentino Sciotti is involved with a number of wineries in Puglia, Campania (he is the man behind Vesevo) and his native Abruzzi. The Gran Sasso wines are made by young winemaker Marco Flacco and display a freshness and directness of fruit that is seldom found in this region. Most Montepulciano at this price comes either from negociants buying bulk wines or from co-ops, neither of whom work as well or as closely with their growers as Valentino and his team. The grapes for this wine are grown in 15-20 year old vineyards in the production zones of Ortona, San Salvo and Pollutri. This wine is deep ruby red in colour with garnet reflections. It is clean, fresh and plummy on the nose, rich, supple and accessible on the palate. It is balanced and full-bodied with good tannins. The fresh, primary fruit characters are maximised by the fact that it does not age in oak, making it approachable and ready to drink.