2021 Fontefico Febbre d’Abruzzo
2021 Fontefico Febbre d’Abruzzo
Region: Vasto < Abruzzo < Italy
Grape: Montepulciano d'AbruzzoVineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming; clay and limestone soils; 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 big, used oak botti for fermentation with native yeasts and no temperature control. The wine is aged in these huge botti on the fine lees for 7-9 months, then refined for 18 months in steel before bottling, without fining or filtering or additional sulfur; 13.5% ABV
Winemakers: Nicola and Emanuele Altieri
In 1996, brothers Nicola + Emanuele Altieri established Fontefico, a certified organic estate in the beautiful Vasto gulf on the Southern Abruzzo coast (think central Italy, east and opposite of Lazio and the city of Rome, bordering the Adriatic Sea). Supported by their dad Alessandro, an expert agronomist, the duo began to experiment the different estate’s vineyards with lots of micro-vinifications, always with fresh acidity and deep fruit thanks to the strong breeze coming from the Adriatic sea.
This wine, named 'Febbre d'Abruzzo" (translates as 'fever of Abruzzo') is a deeply colored, full-bodied not quite red, not quite rosato, which comes from the skin tannins of the deeply-hued Montepulciano grape and not from extended maceration. In fact 'Febbre' gets very little skin time, but does get extended aging in steel before bottling, adding to the complexity and refinement of this special wine. While rosé might be an afterthought (or cash cow) in many regions, in Abruzzo 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.
After "taste testing" (..ahem) endless bottles two summers ago in Abruzzo, we're happy to report that the Fontefico wines that we stumbled upon in a café at the foot of a crumbling castle, the one that stole our hearts, was the dark pink juice from Fontefico! We posted about it, they messaged us, and fast forward a year later, that wine took a long boat to Cali to make its way to Rock Juice. A very happy ending.
This special wine, which is made in tiny quantities from their top vineyard plots, is called Abruzzo fever for reasons we don't quite understand. They say it is "a non-rosé rosé, a non-Cerasuolo Cerasuolo" (because it does not comply with the disciplinary) but we say it's an exceptional dark pink/baby red that we want to be drinking on sultry summer nights, chilled but not too cold.
Bright and earthy with wild cherry, cranberry, Balsalmic, wet earth and white pepper, finishing with a stony, briny minerality. Intense and complex, with tension and texture, this is a serious, versatile wine that deserves a spot on the dinner table. In many ways, this 'tweener wine is the ideal bridge for different palates and foods. You can drink it chilled with burgers, or not quite as cool paired with tacos or as your opening "red" at a summer dinner party. 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. And honestly, it drinks more like a light red wine than a rosé.
SERVE CHILLED BUT NOT ICY COLD