It’s not often that you meet a handsome, young man from Abruzzo who woos you into buying all his wine. In addition to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the region has some very unique wine varietals.
Torre Zambra Winery
I recently had the fortuitous opportunity to meet the marketing director from Torre Zambra winery run by the De Cerchio family in Abruzzo, Italy.
His grandfather founded the winery in 1961, and his father is now the winemaker.
As the marketing director, he travels 250 days of the year selling his family’s wines around the world.
While they are not a certified organic winery, but they do not use herbicides or pesticides and strive to make wines “as transparent and natural as possible” with minimal intervention.
Here are 5 of wines from the winery typical to Abruzzo along with suggested Italian food pairings from the same region.
Golden hued with the taste of salty lemons, this Passerina wine is made in stainless steel tanks from 25 year old vines.
Passerina wine is also found in the Marche region of Italy, in addition to Abruzzo.
Known for its clean, fresh flavors and fruity aromas, it can pair with lighter fare.
This wine would pair well with fish, oysters, or even pickled sardines.
At a winemaker dinner at Citrone restaurant in Redlands, CA, this wine was paired with Tempura Battered Monkfish with local Tomato Compote and Fried Shallot Ring.
This Pecorino wine is made in the same method as the Passerina wine in stainless steel vats, but it is more aromatic with a longer lasting finish on the palate.
The story goes that sheep, whose milk was used for Pecorino cheese, would eat the grapes and so became the name of the wine.
Pale yellow in color with high acidity, this wine shows a touch of minerality and light floral jasmine notes.
At the previously mentioned winemaker dinner in #1 above, this pecorino was paired with an Italian Pear, Hazelnut, and Ricotta Cake.
I just love the idea of pairing a dessert with a savory wine, since some dessert wines can be cloying.
This wine would also do well with a few seafood specialties from Pescara, a coastal city in Abruzzo, as detailed in Why Italians Love to Talk About Food:
- Calamari stuffed with a mixture of shrimp, soft bread, garlic, and parsley then cooked in white wine
- Scapece of Vasto – slices of skate and dogfish marinated with vinegar and saffron
- Pescara style fish soup – scorpion fish, dogfish, skate, octopus, shrimp, mussels, tomato, onion, red pepper, and saffron
#3 Rosé Cerasuolo
This is a very special rosé from Abruzzo. Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes, this wine must look, taste, and smell like cherries according to DOC regulations.
The DOC, in fact, regulates these wines not to be pale.
The name stems from cerasa which means cherry in local Italian dialect.
This wine pops with bright fruit, raspberry, plum, and pomegranate with a mineral backbone and tannic finish.
In my conversation with the marketing director, he said this wine is classically paired with pizza.
Pizza, I questioned? Yes, he said that pizza is not served with red wine because it doesn’t pair with bread flour.
Due to the acidity and minerality in the wine, he recommends pairing with a simple margherita pizza.
He would not pair it with prosciutto, which I thought goes so well with rosé, because the meat is too salty, and this wine needs more sweetness.
#4 Madia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
This young Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is made from 10 year old vines and vinified in cement and stainless steel.
It has soft tannins and is meant to be drunk young. Per the winery, it won’t get better with age.
This is the entry level Montepulciano from Torre Zambra.
Madia means cupboard in Italian and is so named in tribute to the winery’s founder, who was originally a woodworker.
According to the winery, this is the quintessentially paired with lamb skewers, also known as arrosticini in Abruzzo.
#5 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Villamagna
Perhaps the crown jewels of the Torre Zambra collection are their wines from Villamagna.
Villamagna has its own DOC, and it is a very small one. There are 30,000 hectares in Abruzzo and only 8 hectares in Villamagna and 5 wine producers.
Located 10 miles from the seaside and 10 miles from the mountains, Villamagna has its own microclimate.
Made from older vines with a little more oak, some new and some old, this wine is made from vines that are 20-25 years old.
After spending the first 6 months in cement, the wine is aged in a mix of 50% new and 50% aged barrels.
Eat with heavy meat such as bresato (a meat roll in sauce with herbs and carrot) or a T-bone steak dressed simply with olive oil and pepper.
Alternately, the wine director did say you could just enjoy this on its own, and that is how I chose to drink mine.
It had a nice balance of acid, sweetness, and warm cocoa, leather, and earth notes.
No harsh tannins but a lovely mouthfeel spiced with pepper and the softness of ripe plums.
Just sipping on its own as an ample “dessert,” any night of the week.
It should be noted that the other iconic wine of Abruzzo is Trebbiano. The Torre Zambre wine does make one, but he can’t bring all his wines to one tasting because people get confused.
Tips for Selecting Abruzzo Wines
For more detailed information on selecting wines from Abruzzo, check out these posts from the #italianFWT writers:
Abruzzo Wine Articles from the #ItalianFWT Group
Gwendolyn from Wine Predator shares “Beautiful Abruzzo: 3 Montepulciano and 1 Trebbiano with simple Italian cuisine”
Cindy from Grape Experiences suggests that you “Immerse Yourself in Wines from Abruzzo for a Genuine Taste of Italy”
Linda from My Full Wine Glass suggests Fresh Abruzzo wines to pair with fall produce (#ItalianFWT)”
Jeff foodwineclick brings us “Pairing Magic with Ferzo Pecorino and Squash Risotto”
David from Cooking Chat shared “Baked Haddock with Pasta and White Wine from Abruzzo“.
Katarina from Grapevine Adventures wrote about San Lorenzo Winery – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo between Sea and Mountain
As is the case when you’re tasting and enjoying wines, you may forget people’s names, as I did with the marketing director from Torre Zambra.
The names of the wines, however, I will not forget. I hope you get a chance to try them too.
Do you love Abruzzo wine? Spread the ♥, and please share!