The Abruzzo region in south-central Italy on the Adriatic coast is known for its inexpensive red wines that are found in most wine stores in this country. They tend to be serviceable wash-down wines for pasta or pizza, without much complexity.
But spend an extra few dollars or so, and things begin to get more interesting, as La Valentina’s 2015 “Spelt” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva shows us.
The grape here is Montepulciano, not to be confused with the Tuscan city of Montepulciano, where the Sangiovese variety is used in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and other wines.
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La Valentina, which was founded in 1990, has aimed to go beyond Abruzzo’s reputation for bulk-wine production, and it certainly does with this well-made $20 wine.
The winery has used organic farming practices for the last five years or so, and in its “Spelt” Montapulciano d’Abruzzo it achieves a combination of delicious fruit and excellent balance in a medium-bodied wine with alcohol of 13.5 percent. (The name Spelt, by the way, refers to a kind of grain that used to be grown on the site of the winery.)
The wine has concentrated dark-fruit flavors of black cherry and blackberry with subtle cedar and clove notes, all framed by a firm but smooth tannic structure. It’s drinking beautifully right now, and is well worth considering as an alternative to more expensive reds from Tuscany, among other regions.
For pairings, think of it for all kinds of pasta dishes but also for a variety of meats, including grilled duck breast, and pork and veal chops.
The signature white grape of Abruzzo, meanwhile, is Trebbiano, and some producers are now making distinctive wines with that variety as well.