Until last week, my only reference to Abruzzo in Central Italy was the highly regarded Valentini, as well as Emidio Pepe. Then I was introduced to Amorotti, a new project that could be compared to both wineries, which is especially impressive given its recent debut to the market and doing so at a fraction of the price.

Today, I'm happy to offer the Amorotti wines.

Gaetano Carboni farms his family’s 50 hectares made of woodland, pastures, and farmland where they grow olives, cereals, legumes, and other native crops. When he took over in 2000, he completely revamped the estate, converting to certified organic and starting an artist residency out of their farmhouse.

Abruzzo is due east of Rome, faring toward the country’s opposite coast. The region is sandwiched between two climates: To the left is the Gran Sasso, the highest point of the Apennine Mountains running through the seam of Italy, and to the right is the Adriatic Sea that’s milder and more Mediterranean. Imagine combining Tuscany and Sicily, and you might get something like Abruzzo.

Amid their polyculture farming, a mere five hectares of the Carboni farm is planted to vines. Valentini, who is directly across the road from Amorotti’s cellar and winery, offered guidance on what clonal material to grow. For many years, Gaetano sold most of the fruit, only keeping enough to produce wine for his family and friends—2016 was the first vintage that these wines became commercially available!

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are the best-known wines from this region, and Gaetano produces all three. His wines are so individual and distinct to the characteristics of their variety and style—the common thread being that each is seamless, focused, and full of energy.  

Trebbiano Abruzzese is the only white variety to have DOC classification in Abruzzo. Amorotti’s 2017 Trebbiano d'Abruzzo is especially noteworthy for its texture, concentration that intensified over the course of two days. It starts out razor fresh and mineral-driven, then a second wave of fruit and richness carries the wine to a long finish. 

Amorotti’s two other wines are made from Montepulciano, the most planted grape variety in Abruzzo. The 2016 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is aromatic and deep with purple florals and a bright acidity that makes the wine really approachable. The 2017 Cerasuolo D'Abruzzo follows in a similar vein, though the Cerasuolo style of winemaking (think more Italian Rosato) highlights the brighter tones of Montepulciano’s characteristic dark and lustrous fruit, revealing candied black cherry and orange citrus.

Valentini and Emidio Pepe still hold their regard, but Amorotti offers a glimpse into the same greatness they glean from. These are undoubtedly among the best-valued wines in our entire collection and represent our greatest Italian find of 2020.

—Sydney Love