Today was the last day of Vinitaly 2022 for me and, among the many wonderful tastings, I participated in a vertical wine tasting. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Riserva Casauria 'San Clemente' by the Zaccagnini winery. I did not know this company except by name and was pleasantly surprised by this red wine which, especially in some vintages, exceeded all expectations.

The Montepulciano vine variety - with a medium-late harvest time - is grown in both marquee and espalier systems in medium-textured clay soils in the province of Pescara. After soft pressing of the grapes, maceration takes place in oak vats with manual punching-down and alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. It then matures in wood for at least 9 months and rests for a few months before release in both steel tanks and bottles.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Zaccagnini

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC: the vertical tasting

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Zaccagnini: 2017 vintage

The 2017 harvest was characterised by a winter with copious snowfall that delayed the vegetative awakening by about two weeks. In mid-April, there was a terrible frost (you can read the testimonies of many winegrowers throughout Italy HERE) that affected many of the early varieties on the valley floor. From the end of May until the harvest, there was little rain and rather high temperatures, which brought to their knees all the vineyards that did not have relief irrigation. The Montepulciano grape harvest lasted about a month from mid-September to mid-October.

My tasting. It is intense ruby red, almost impenetrable and consistent. The nose is delicate and complex, with notes of chocolate, black pepper, blueberry jam, French gentian and a toasted accent. In the mouth it is soft, warm, consistent, fairly well-balanced, but still has tannins that are lacking in youth and perhaps a little green. Long finish.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Zaccagnini: 2015 vintage

The 2015 harvest was characterised by a mild winter followed by a very wet spring that slowed down the budding process. June and July were very hot, so much so that the harvest was brought forward by about a week.

My tasting. It is deep and impenetrable ruby red, consistent. The nose is intense and more than complex with notes of plum, sweet liquorice, rhubarb, ink, milk chocolate, coffee powder. In the mouth it is soft, quite warm, consistent, and balanced thanks to a great acidic backbone and tannin which, however, still needs to refine.

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Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC: 2012 vintage **

The 2012 vintage was characterised by a winter with abundant rain and snowfall, which provided good water reserves. The not very warm spring caused a delay in budding. From April onwards, there were mostly fine days, a medium-hot summer, and the harvest began normally in mid-September, but lasted until the end of October.

My tasting. It is intense ruby red with garnet hues, impenetrable and consistent. On the nose it is intense, complex, with notes of mint, tobacco, cocoa, violet flowers, a haematic note, morello cherries in syrup. In the mouth it is soft, structured, balanced, softer tannin, acidity. It has rounder and particularly pleasant tannin. Long finish. For me it was the best vintage in the tasting.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Zaccagnini: 2010 vintage

The 2010 grape harvest was characterised by normal rainfall, which nevertheless became abundant in the spring until June. Low temperatures led to a delay in budding. Then came a summer with medium-high temperatures that allowed the Montepulciano to ripen normally. The harvest was regular, from mid-September to mid-October.

My tasting. It is intense and concentrated garnet red, impenetrable and consistent. On the nose intense notes of coffee, liquorice, cola, black pepper, brown sugar, blackberry. In the mouth it is very elegant and consistent. The tannin hides a perhaps slightly delayed vintage, but it is very round. Long finish.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Zaccagnini

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC: Year 2008 *

The 2008 grape harvest was characterised by a winter with regular rainfall and copious snowfalls that replenished water reserves, and low temperatures caused a delay in budding. From the end of April, fine weather, except for some sporadic rain, and high temperatures favoured the development of good vegetation.

My tasting. It is intense and concentrated garnet red, very consistent. The nose is very delicate compared to its predecessors, complex and fine. Very balsamic and menthol notes, with fruit still present, lavender, Mediterranean herbs, undergrowth. In the mouth it is elegant. Structure, round tannin, still a beautiful freshness and length in the mouth. Red orange finish.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Zaccagnini: 2005 vintage*

The 2005 harvest was characterised by a regular, but rather cold winter. This caused a delay in budding. The spring was rainy, but fortunately did not create any phytopathological problems. The summer also started late, but was dry and very hot. The harvest began and ended a few days late: from the last week of September to the last week of October.

My tasting. It is intense and concentrated garnet red, very consistent. The nose is delicate and intriguing, with notes of cinchona, French gentian, cola, blackberry, hematic, beeswax. In the mouth, it is soft, but still has tannin that is perhaps the best tannin of all. Elegantly structured, fresh and with a long cinchona finish.

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Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC wine is a real gem for fans of structured red wines. It comes onto the market approximately 30 months after the harvest, but its tannins make it suitable for later consumption: 5 to 10 years after release. And do you know any wines from the Zaccagnini winery? Do you have any Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Riserva red wines to recommend? Write it to me in a comment here on the blog!

Cheers 🍷

Chiara

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