By Bob Lipinski
The Cornacchia Winery is situated in the region of Abruzzo (known as Abruzzi in Italy) located in a mountainous area east of Latium in the south-central part of Italy off the Adriatic Sea. In this region the two most prolific and popular grape varieties are Trebbiano (a white grape) and Montepulciano (a red grape).
The winery, which dates to 1577, is run by Barone Cornacchia’s son Filippo and daughter Caterina. It specializes in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a single vineyard “Le Coste” wine in addition to the everyday Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a riserva from the prestigious Colline Teramane DOCG.
I tasted some of the wines with Caterina Cornacchia on several occasions and here are my notes.
2016 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (100% Trebbiano grapes): If you don’t like Trebbiano because it’s thin and neutral-tasting; well you’ve been drinking mass-produced examples. What a wine! Medium-bodied with citrus notes of orange along with almonds, apple, cantaloupe, hazelnuts, melon, pears, and wild flowers.
2015 Pecorino “Colli Aprutini” (100% Pecorino grapes). No, not the cheese! Pecorino is a white grape that deserves considerably more attention. Straw-colored with flavors of apples, citrus, figs, peaches, pears, and tropical fruit. Quite dry, with a bitter almond aftertaste.
2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (100% Montepulciano grapes). Dark almost purple color with plenty of dark fruit, blackberries, black cherries, jam, anise, chestnuts, and a spicy warming aftertaste. Not a mass-produced wine! Forget a bottle, buy a case!
2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigna Le Coste” (100% Montepulciano grapes). This elegant “single-vineyard” wine was aged for 14 months in Slavonian oak barrels. Deep ruby color with flavors of plum, spices, black currants, cherries, and earthy overtones of mushrooms and chestnuts.
2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Colline Teramane” DOCG “Vizzarro” (100% Montepulciano grapes). The wine was aged for more than 2 years in oak barrels. Rich, dry, full-bodied and powerful with concentrated fruit; flavors of jam, blackberries, black licorice; with dried leaves, vanilla, and plenty of tannin to ensure longevity.
Two cheeses from Abruzzo worth searching out are Scamorza and Scanno.
Scamorza, a cow’s milk cheese, similar to mozzarella is light yellow, with a rindless pear-shaped exterior and soft to semisoft texture. It is mild and slightly salty tasting and often smoked (affumicato). In southern Italian dialect, the name scamorza means “dunce.”
Scanno, a sheep’s milk cheese from the mountain village of Scanno is traditionally eaten with fresh fruit. The exterior is black with a buttery pale-yellow interior. The flavor has a mild burnt tinge to it.