Tucked away and protected by Abruzzo’s famous Mount Majella grows the 30 hector winery of Azienda Nicola Santoleri. Quaint towns and dramatic dropping cliffs (calanchi) saturate the landscape around the vineyards in Crognaleto. To make exceptional wine you must start at the root... for over 50 years the Santoleri family has planted and pruned their vines by way of tradition (by hand) and use biological methods (natural fertilization) on the fields. The winery grows two grapes for bottling, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo each vintage promises to mirror the temperament of the year it was harvested.
The bottaia/cantina is located in the heart of the medieval town of Guardiagrele, it is here where the aging begins and the top vintage years are selected for bottling. The structure houses 25 barrels (20-25 hl) of Slavonian oak and was built in the 1700’s. Outside hangs a plaque in memory of the Master of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nicola Santoleri who prematurely passed away in 2007. Through the oversized wooden doors the melody of Mozart softly plays and the synopsis of the half century old Santoleri story is told, it is a story passed on for generations and now being narrated by Giovanni Santoleri. At Azienda Nicola Santoleri quality is never compromised, patience is always practiced and in collaboration with mother nature, magical wine is created.
Abruzzo is one of Italy’s most productive and yet undervalued wine regions. Known as the “lungs of Europe,” the green region located in Central Italy has a unique topography made up of grandiose mountains (Gran Sasso and Mount Majella), rugged hillsides and blue waters of the Adriatic Sea. The drive from Rome to the most Eastern point of Abruzzo (Pescara) is two and a half hours. The majority of Abruzzo’s 200+ wineries are located in close proximity to the mountains creating ideal growing conditions for the native red grape of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (not to be confused with Rosso di Montepulciano from Tuscany) and the white grape of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.
Abruzzo’s noble grape, was coined Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in the 1700’s and was first commercialized in 1821. Despite regulations to legally use a minimum of 85% of the Montepulciano grape in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, Azienda Nicola Santoleri along with a group of small, high quality, wine producers across the region use 100% of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape for their wines. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grape is versatile and is an expression of the land and growing conditions of Abruzzo’s four Provinces, L’Aquila (austere), Chieti (mineral), Pescara (salt) and Teramo (herbal). As the “Master’s of Montepulciano” Azienda Nicola Santoleri takes pride in their philosophy of “slow wine,” the vintages selected for their Riserva line are aged in oak for a decade before a bottled is released.