La Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Spelt Riserva 2017
The Spelt Montepulciano d'Abruzzo represents a fuller-bodied version of this traditional wine compared with La Valentina's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo in the Classica line. It is made with the first selection of Montepulciano grapes from the vineyards. In addition, all of the wine for Spelt is aged in wood, for a total of 18 months. The result is a more robust and complex wine.
The name Spelt refers to a type of wheat (faro in Italian) that once grew where the La Valentina winery and village of Spoltore (whose name itself derives from spelt) are now located.
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
The 2017 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Spelt wafts up with a display of savory cherry sauce and wild herbs complemented by hints of sweet spice and smoke. It’s velvety in texture yet lifted and refined, with a mix of polished red and black fruits and a web of fine-grained tannins toward the close. While youthfully structured and poised, a lasting flourish of licorice, currant and tobacco lingers incredibly long. As enjoyable as this is today, the 2017 needs another year or two of cellaring to show its best.
Fattoria La Valentina was born on the hills overlooking Spoltore, which is near Pescara in Central Italy, in 1990. The owners, Sabatino, Roberto and Andrea Di Properzio, have been managing the winery since their first vintage in1994.
After the first few years spent studying the Santa Teresa vineyard, their continuous efforts to keep improving quality and to achieve recognition for the high-quality D.O.C. wines from the Abruzzo region have become the principal goals in the company philosophy.
It all starts with the land, and in addition to vineyards close to the winery, La Valentina has acquired several vineyard sites that are located at higher elevations in the foothills of the Apennines, near a national park in pristine conditions. In all their vineyards, the Di Properzios have made a strong commitment to sustainability—avoiding the use of artificial or chemical products, ensuring maximum biodiversity, and relying on minimal intervention in the land’s natural processes. To this end, all the estate vineyards have been certified organic since 2016.
Rather than turning to international grape varieties or varieties that are more at home in other regions, the Di Properzio brothers remain true to the traditional varieties associated with Abruzzo: Montepulciano and Trebbiano Abruzzese, along with a time-honored but almost forgotten variety, Pecorino. The shift in focus is not in the grapes but in the way they are grown and vinified.
La Valentina’s winemaking is managed by consulting enologist Luca D’Attoma, who joined the winery team in 1998. The winery’s philosophy is to intervene as little as possible in the natural wine growing processes, adhering to the concept that high-quality wine “has the mark of the vine on its grapes.”
A warm, Mediterranean vine-growing paradise, in Abruzzo, the distance from mountains to seaside is relatively short. The Apenniness, which run through the center of Italy, rise up on its western side while the Adriatic Sea defines its eastern border.
Wine composition tends to two varieties: Abruzzo’s red grape, Montepulciano and its white, Trebbiano. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can come in a quaffable, rustic and fruity style that generally drinks best young. It is also capable of making a more serious style, where oak aging tames its purely wild fruit.
Trebbiano in Abruzzo also comes in a couple of varieties. Trebbiano Toscana makes a simple and fruity white. However when meticulously tended, the specific Trebbiano d’Abruzzo-based white wines can be complex and long-lived.
In the region’s efforts to focus on better sites and lower yields, vine acreage has decreased in recent years while quality has increased.
Montepulciano is the second most planted red variety in Italy after Sangiovese, though it is achieves its highest potential in the region of Abruzzo. Consistently enticing and enjoyable, Montepulciano enjoys great popularity throughout central and southern Italy as well. A tiny bit grows with success in California, Argentina and Australia. Somm Secret—Montepulciano is also the name of a village in Tuscany where, confusingly, they don’t grow the Montepulciano grape at all! Sangiovese shines in yet another Tuscan village, here making the reputable wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.