2018 De Fermo 'Le Cince' Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Superiore
Grape: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified Biodynamic farming; clay and limestone; bunches are partly destemmed and partly left in whole clusters, then crushed in an old-school vertical pressoir. After a few hours' maceration, the juice is moved into 20-hectoliter oak botti for a spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts and no temperature control. The wine is aged in these huge botti on the fine lees for 7-9 months and bottled without fining or filtering or additional sulfur; 13% ABV, 650 cases
Winemaker: Stefano Papetti CeroniStefano Papetti Ceroni got his start in winemaking unconventionally, and in a roundabout way. Growing up in Bologna, he did not come from a winemaking or farming family, but being a precocious youngster, fell in love with wine at the wee age of 11. In high school, he formed a tasting group with his friends, and once he was old enough, took a sommelier course. After studying law and history at university, he ventured to his wife’s hometown in Abruzzo to visit the family’s land that was being managed by local farmers, called contadini. He immediately fell in love, and for years would escape there each weekend to learn about viticulture and winemaking until he finally took over the estate himself.
Two things set the De Fermo vineyards apart from most in the region. First is their dedication to biodynamic farming, having been Demeter-certified since 2010. Second is that the vines are maintained in an ancient style called alberello, a style of vine training involving no wires or system of support, thus resulting in a shrub or bush. De Fermo is one of the only estates in all of Abruzzo to not use the Post World-War II tradition of pergola (an ancient Italian overhead vine-training system that uses wires or wooden structures). The pergola system is known for very high yields, and the alberello produces 50% less. The lower yields result in greater concentration, and more depth, in the wine.
Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo is the traditional deeply colored, full-bodied not quite red, not quite rosato of the region; they call it Cerasuolo (translates as "big cherry") for its pretty cherry color and flavor, which comes from the skin tannins of the deeply-hued Montepulciano grape and not from extended maceration. While rosé might be an afterthought (or cash cow) in many regions, here It is a serious and important wine, the true calling card of the top Abruzzo growers -- and is the Abruzzo wine that commands the highest price. And De Fermo's is top of the line, a very special and sought-after wine that rivals the best rosé bottles in the world (move over, Bandol!) Bright and earthy with wild cherry, pomegranate and forest funk (moss, wet tree?) that give way to stony minerality and a long, surprisingly grippy, finish. In many ways, this tweener wine is the ideal bridge for different palates and foods. You can drink it chilled in the summer with burgers, or lightly cool in the winter with soups and stews. It's our secret weapon to have at the ready for dinners (and multiple dishes) out, or when there are several competing palates (and tolerance for wildness) to please.