Too many times, Abruzzo gets passed over as a destination for wine, travel and food in favour of Tuscany. Instead of the west coast, plan your trip to the east coast and the shore of the Adriatic Sea! Abruzzo has everything! Mountains, flatlands, beaches, plenty of seafood, lamb dishes and of course wines. in the region, Montepulciano is the key red grape while Pecorino and Trebbiano Abruzzese share some excellent examples of wine. This month’s #ItalianFWT is all about women in wine, whether they are property owners or winemakers. I’d like to introduce you to one who is both!
Cristiana Tiberio and her brother Antonio are the owners of the Tiberio estate, located outside of the medieval town of Cugnoli, just over 20 miles inland from the seaside city of Pescara. Antonio is the eonologist while Cristiana is the winemaker, not to mention social media queen and world traveler, spreading the gospel of Abruzzo, its wines and its culture.
I met Cristiana in 2016, first tasting her wines while I was working on the VIA courses, tasting them in class as key examples of both montepulciano and pecorino. Later in the year, I had the opportunity to take a tour of both Marche and Abruzzo and a group of us were privileged to visit her estate. To say that Cristiana is passionate about what she does and where she lives is a gross understatement. Take the fact that she is the first to travel to markets that have her wine in order to further promote as well as to markets that have
never heard of her wines but might want to start thinking more about Abruzzo as a quality wine-making region. Anytime I have a question, I just send her a message, and she always replies back!
If you ever go visit the Tiberio estate, you will be greeted warmly by the Abruzzese mountain dogs –Quarmiri the patriarch, leading the pack. One might know these dogs as the Maremma Sheep dog, a massive, noble, distinctive-looking dog with a bear-like head. Seeing these dogs first thing and you like this property already!
The Tiberio estate produces four wines – Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (with the trebbiano abruzzese), Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, along with two very special wines. Fonte Canale (made from 60+ year old vines) hand selected bunches of trebbiano abbruzzese, +and from a single block of montepulciano grapes, the Colle Vota wine.
Just to be clear, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the wine, while trebbiano abruzzese is the grape.
Many vineyards in Abruzzo through DNA studies, have found that the white grape vineyards consist of bombino bianco, mostosa, pagadebit and even trebbiano toscano grapes, which lack the quality that the abruzzese grapes have. Although the above mentioned grapes have similar qualities, all of these grapes are genetically separate and the highest quality grape of this group is undoubtedly the abruzzese. As a result, plantings of the true abruzzese vine are few and far between, so upon discovering a rare vineyard of trebbiano abruzzese, while working for another company,
Cristiana and Antonio’s father Riccardo knew he had stumbled upon a gold mine, quit his existing job at a competitor winery and bought the eight hectare plot to shape his and his children’s destiny.
Since then Cristiana and Antonio have lovingly been taking care of the land, making excellent “points-worthy” wine and spreading the gospel of Abruzzo and all that it has to offer all over the world. 55-60 years old is the average age of the vines and to avoid the confusion of getting the wrong vine, they don’t use clones, but rather massal selection to
ensure the biotype of trebbiano abbruzzese is still being planted. Cristiana told me that they only plant new vines as needed, never an entire vineyard. In fact, Cristiana has launched herself as not only one of the best winemakers in Abruzzo, or one of the best female winemakers, but one of the best in all of Italy itself. It’s not just about making the wine, but understanding how the grapes are grown on the land, the vines, the soil, vinification and many other things.
I recall the conversation with Cristiana about her montepulciano. Her favourite grape to
work with, is of course the abruzzese, and making the wine came second nature, whereas she said she had to “think a lot” when working with montepulciano; making the red required a great deal of thought process. It’s important to understand that montepulciano is a more difficult grape to work with as it’s prone to reduction – that eggy smell that is distasteful, so it’s important to give lots of oxygen when working with the must of montepulciano.
The Tiberio montepulciano is 100% stainless steel fermented and aged and she (at the time) was contemplating using oak. I think our group collectively nodded our heads with an emphatic no! What made her montepulciano stand out from the others was the freshness and purity of fruit. All those red cherry, savoury herbs and especially blood orange aromas and flavours that just don’t exist in any other monte’s because too often they are hidden under (new) oak. To this day, all wines made at Tiberio are made using only free run juice, native yeasts, stainless steel with no fining or filtering. Pure wines made from pristine grapes…as it should be.
Although I have tasted her entire lineup of wines (including some aged pecorino) I will focus this post on the Tiberio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. My dinner guests will assist me on whether the food pairings were on par or not, and my l’insegnante Italiana will tell me if I got it right or not!
In all the hubbub of last night’s festivities, I promise I tasted these wines and made notes, but forgot to take photos! Argh!
Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo – this 2018 was super fresh and had some great stone fruit, pear and citrus zest aromas. In the mouth, it was round with balanced acidity and huge minerality! It was a great pairing with both the manchego and hard goat cheeses I had on the charcuterie board, along with the Sicilian mandarin orange jam that I also had on there! I saw many a slice of baguette with a piece of cheese and the marmellata going towards people’s mouths! One of the favourite white wines of the evening!
Tiberio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – We were tasting the 2015 last night and wow, it’s really drinking amazing right now! Full of ripe red cherry, savoury herbs and a bit of smokiness, sweet cigar and hints of spice on the palate! The tannins were unbelievably smooth and velvety, the wine was just a joy to drink! Kudos Cristiana!
If you ever find yourself on the east side of Italy, along the Adriatic coast, be sure to spend some time in Abruzzo! Whether on the beach or on the steep hillsides, there is something for everyone here! Of course there’s the wine too!
Celebrate women and women winemakers along with me and have a look at what my fellow #ItalianFWT bloggers have to say! Salute!
- Cam at Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs Crab and Cambozola-Stuffed Arancini + Poggio al Tesoro Solosole Vermentino 2018 #ItalianFWT
- Lynn at Savor the Harvest introduces Women In Italian Wine: Meet Mateja Gravner #ItalianFWT
- Jennifer at Vino Travels features: Italian Women in the Wine Industry Featuring Maso Martis #ItalianFWT
- Linda at My Full Wine Glass tells Punset wines: the story of one woman’s perseverance #ItalianFWT
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm pairs Italian Roasted Chicken with a Gianni Brunelli Rosso di Montalcino #ItalianFWT
- David at Cooking Chat pairs Ground Turkey Bolognese with Wine from Anna Maria #ItalianFWT
- Susannah at Avvinare shows Spotlight on Vernaccia di San Gimignano and the Consortium’s New President – Irina Guicciardini Strozzi #ItalianFWT
- Jeff at Food Wine Click! presents Italian Women in Wine – Cantina Marilina #ItalianFWT
- Deanna at Asian Test Kitchen says Don’t Judge a Wine by its Label unless it’s Mustilli #ItalianFWT
- Terri at Our Good Life presents Women in Wine: Meet Kelly from Twin Meadows Winery #ItalianFWT
- Gwen at Wine Predator introduces Vigna Petrussa and Verovino: Women to Watch in Wine #ItalianFWT
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares Passion and Authenticity in Abruzzo: A Conversation with Cristiana Tiberio of Az. Agr. Tiberio #ItalianFWT
- Nicole at Somm’s Table shares Cooking to the Wine: Tiberio Pecorino & Saffron Chickpea Stew with Seafood #ItalianFWT
- Pinny at Chinese Food and Wine Pairings says Cheers to Donatella Cinelli Colombini Rosso di Montalcino Produced from Women Flagship – Casato Prime Donne #ItalianFWT
I’m glad to see Abruzzo highlighted here as it’s a region that does have everything as you say, but isn’t the first on everyone’s list to visit. Plenty of great wines and some really great montepulciano as well.
I agree that Abruzzo is a great place to visit! I went on a press trip there in 2018, so was fun reading about this winery and its wines.
Of course I loved seeing you with that beautiful dog, but I was also intrigued to see pergola trained vines. So interesting to see all the variations in vine training around the world.
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How fortunate for Cristina and her brother that their dad purchased the eight hectares. Reading your article made me think how much sense it makes to go back to the way things were done… massal selection versus clones. Thanks for the intro to Tiberio Joy.
Great post! I’m so jealous you got to visit! Thanks for taking us there vicariously. And I completely agree with you re the freshness and purity of the Montepulciano.
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If ever I get the opportunity to travel to this are of Italy, I am definitely making a stop at this amazing winery.
I wasn’t aware that montepulciano is prone to reduction. Tibero’s montepulciano sounds so fresh and inviting. Congrats to your group for shaking your heads “no” to oak. Will definitely visit her estate if and when I’m in Abruzzo!
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