Praesidium, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
As the days get colder and the weather turns from Indian Summer to just plain cold it’s natural to start thinking about hunkering down for the winter. Gone are the heirloom tomatoes and light fish dishes of August and September. Time to turn your mind to rich braises and hearty roasts. Naturally, one needs a glass or two of something delicious and red to pair with this cuisine of late autumn. Perhaps a rustic, full bodied wine with power and presence. Where could we find such a wine, you ask?
The province of l’Aquila, situated high in the Apennine Mountains in the region of Abruzzo, is the source of Babbo’s wine of the month for November. Produced by Enzo and Lucia Pasquale, the 2010 Praesidium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva is a shining example of one of Italy’s most widely planted varietals. The winery is located in the Peligna Valley, thought to be where Montepulciano originated over two centuries ago. The Pasquale’s have 5 hectares of vines, and the grapes for the Riserva bottling come from vineyards planted about 1,200 feet above sea level. The soil here is mostly rich clay, but the vineyards are streaked with white calcareous stones in places. The surrounding mountain peaks act as a barrier, blocking the warm, humid air of the Mediterranean. This results in a macroclimate that is cooler and drier than one might expect for Central Italy, but is perfect for bringing out the more nuanced side of Montepulciano.
After careful harvesting by hand, a relatively brief maceration, and fermentation by natural yeasts, the wine is transferred to stainless steel to rest and refine for two years. Next comes a racking into wood, predominately large old Slavonian botti, with a small percentage seeing used French barriques. Two years of oak contact is followed by a further six months in bottle before the wine is finally ready to be released.
The result of all this ageing is a full bodied, muscular wine with firm tannins, excellent ripeness, and a long finish. The fruit is flesh and rich, mostly on the blue/black side of the spectrum on both the nose and palate. There’s also a lovely floral component to the aromatics along with dried sage, thyme and other hillside herbs.
Where the wine really shines is its texture. You can just tell by looking at the wine in the glass that it is going to be chewy, dense and concentrated, and this is indeed true. The tannins and fruit coat the inside of the mouth, but the wine never comes off as overblown because those cool mountain nights laid the foundation for a wine with excellent acidity. And that’s the true mark of a great wine, isn’t it? The BALANCE between all of the elements, no one single attribute taking over, everything working in harmony.
Come join us at Babbo in the month of November to enjoy a glass of the 2010 Praesidium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva. It pairs splendidly with the Lamb Scottadito, Beef Brasato, and Mario’s truly transcendent porcini dust-rubbed Ribeye for Two.