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  • Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Iskra 2017


    “The Marina Cvetić 2017 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Iskra opens to thick concentration and a dark, rich appearance. This is the Montepulciano grape as interpreted in a hot and dry vintage. The wine is bold and contemporary in spirit with lots of fruit weight and texture that is smoothed out by oak toast and sweet spice. This is a full-bodied red that would pair with thinly cut beef on skewers called spiedini that you often find at outdoor cookouts in this part of Italy. Drink: 2021-2027. 93 points

    Those lucky enough to have met Gianni Masciarelli before his sudden passing in 2008 will remember a man who was deeply passionate about Abruzzo, his beautifully rugged homeland on the Adriatic flank of central Italy.

    In many ways, and certainly in my own mind, Gianni Masciarelli would become a spirit deity of Abruzzo, with its stubborn, sometimes brooding personality, its landscape extremes that drop from snowy mountain peaks to sandy shorelines, and its ever-tormented earthquake-prone reality.

    When Gianni died of a heart attack 13 years ago, his wife, Belgrade-born Marina Cvetić Masciarelli, took over immediate management of the winery in San Martino sulla Marrucina. It was one of the bravest and most meaningful inheritance successions to ever befall an Italian winery. With her young children at her side, she has been able to build upon Gianni’s blueprint.

    Founded in 1981, the estate farms vines and olive trees in all four provinces of Abruzzo: Chieti, L’Aquila, Pescara and Teramo. There are several different wines in the portfolio starting with the top-shelf Villa Gemma, Iskra and Marina Cvetić lines. Montepulciano and Trebbiano grapes are also expressed in the Gianni Masciarelli and the Castello di Semivicoli lines, and there is an entry-level line called the Linea Classica. A limited selection of wines is released under the name La Botte di Gianni, or “Gianni’s barrel selection,” with only 900 bottles per type.

    This spotlight includes some new releases from the brands Masciarelli and Marina Cvetić. To mark her winery’s 40th birthday, I sat down with five questions for Marina Cvetić Masciarelli.

    1. How do you plan to celebrate the estate’s 40th anniversary?

    The gift we have given ourselves on our 40th birthday is the Masciarelli Art Project, with a first installation that seeks to forge a union between artisanal and contemporary art, all framed by the timeless beauty of the Castello di Semivicoli. Following a period of residency and full immersion in the Masciarelli reality, the Belgian artist Job Smeets created a site-specific artwork called “The Harvest” that consists of two giant light boxes affixed to the façade of Castello di Semivicoli to shine a light on its most outstanding historic moments. There will also be a limited-edition wine label for the 2015 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Villa Gemma. That will be a real collector’s bottle.

    2. Today, the wines of Abruzzo show a wide stylistic range with cult classics on one side (like Valentini or Emidio Pepe) and bigger, more commercial ventures on the other. What is your take on the true identity of Abruzzo wine?

    Like every big producing region, such as the Veneto or Tuscany that come to mind, Abruzzo’s wine identity reveals an increasingly layered approach with wines that match all philosophies and price points: from elite top-quality producers to a wide net of medium-quality producers who aim to make easy-drinking and affordable wines. Personally, I don’t see this as weakness but strength.

    3. What do you foresee in the future of Abruzzo wines?

    Montepulciano and Trebbiano have the true potential for success on a global level, especially as the public grows more familiar with these grapes, thanks to the credibility of the commercial estates that is growing parallel to the fine wine estates. These contrasting sides contribute to the success of Abruzzo wine, one of the top export regions for Italian wine.

    4. As a charismatic take-charge woman, dear Marina, can you tell us about your experience at the helm of this important Abruzzo winery?

    It’s been a big challenge since the very first day. When Gianni was at my side, I learned so much, but now being left to manage everything on my own is a whole other story. Over the years, I’ve learned to wear many different hats. I invested in my own personal training in order to lead the company on a managerial level and to give impetus to the improvements necessary. I traveled far and wide to meet our clients all over the world and dedicated lots of my time to telling the story of Abruzzo wine, why the territory is so special and what makes it excellent.

    5. Is there anything you would have wanted Gianni to see before his death in 2008?

    I was able to achieve the biggest dream Gianni had laid out for himself: the public opening of Castello di Semivicoli. Over the past 10 years, it has become a landmark wine destination, hospitality and wellness center, not just for my region but also beyond.

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (10/21)

    In Stock

  • Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2019


    “Exotic spice and medicinal cherries gain lift through a refreshing wave of mint as the 2019 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva opens in the glass. This is still quite primary with an inky concentration of dark red fruits that saturate, leaving a mineral staining but also a twang of sour citrus to balance. While structured and potent, the 2019 is full of lively energy. This early preview of the recently-bottled 2019 shows tremendous potential. Drinking window: 2024-2030. 92-94 points

    Masciarelli, in San Martino sulla Marrucina, is located in the mountains with Mount Maiella, not the Gran Sasso massif, looming in the distance. A 40-minute drive west would allow you to go skiing, while a 40-minute drive east would land you on the Adriatic beaches. The wines here provide an interesting peek into the diversity of terroir throughout Abruzzo. Masciarelli oversees 365 hectares through sustainable practices, spread out between 60 different sites. Masciarelli is the only Abruzzo producer to source all-estate fruit from all four provinces (Chieti, Pescara, Teramo and l’Aquila). When asked if they wanted to grow any larger, Marina Cvetic Masciarelli, the current head of the winery, responded with a flat-out “no”, and to quote her, “Climate change is a disaster.” The continuing heat and dry conditions are changing the way producers are looking to the future. In San Martino during the summer of 2022, everything was a vibrant green due to built-up water supplies from winter snow and spring rain. But, this is only one small part of the property, each area within Abruzzo has its own dynamic. Marina Cvetic Masciarelli admitted that she doesn’t know yet what the future will hold, but a rethinking of locations, exposures and possibly even varieties is necessary. As for the wines of today, this continues to be one of the most dependable producers throughout the entire region. Their portfolio provides a little something for everyone, the “classic” and fresher “Masciarelli’” lineup, the more international and stylish “Masciarelli – Marina Cvetic” bottlings and the more powerful and age-worthy “Masciarelli – Villa Gemma” label. This house also tailors one of the top Cerasuolos being produced throughout all of Abruzzo, made in a hearty fashion, and a small production of international varieties, including a Syrah that I found to be quite impressive.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (10/22)

    In Stock

  • Masciarelli Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2018


    “The 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva Villa Gemma is a glass-staining purple in color. It lifts with an intense array of blackberry preserves, rum-soaked raisins, dusty sage and cacao. This is silky and supple with textural depths of ripe wild berry fruit and saturating spice guided by zesty acidity. There’s simply so much youthful concentration here, yet energy as well, as this finishes long with a staining of tart cranberry framed by gently grippy tannins. The 2018 really packs a punch, which says a lot from this challenging vintage. Enjoy this racy Villa Gemma Riserva over the next five to eight years. Drinking window: 2025-2032. 93 points”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (09/23)

    In Stock

  • Praesidium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2018


    “The 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva has a spicy and exotic bouquet, blending Indian curries with grilled sage, tomato leaf, ash and hints of smoked meat. It’s surprisingly juicy and lifted in feel with bright acids propelling mineral-tinged red berries and hints of tart citrus across the palate. The tannins are crunchy, yet they don’t get in the way; the 2018 finishes with a bitter twang of cocoa and sour cherry. The rustic touch that Praesidium usually manages so well is a bit too noticeable in the 2018. Drinking window: 2023-2028. 88 points”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (10/22)

    In Stock

  • Praesidium Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva A Marianna 2012


    “The 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva A Marianna is an impenetrable purplish red color with a seductively dark and rich bouquet, as crushed ashen stone, graphite and sage give way to black currants, sous bois and a lifting hint of cedar. It’s like pure velvet on the palate, seeming pliant and round at first, yet with a core of salty minerals that adds an edgy savoriness, as they mix with tart woodland berries and nervous acidity to create a push and pull of tension. For all of its power and intensity, the 2012 maintains an incredibly fresh character, even as a coating of gripping tannin firms the expression through the finale. That said, this well-muscled stallion needs time to mellow before revealing all of its charms. The A Marianna is only produced in vintages that the winery deems as special. It hails from a one-hectare parcel of old vines planted in 1962. The wine refines for a total of sixty-six months, with the first two years in stainless steel, followed by another three and a half years in Slavonian oak. Drinking window: 2024-2032. 94 points

    Praesidium is located in the Peligna Valley, where the family tends to seven hectares of organically farmed Montepulciano and Trebbiano Abruzzese (that’s right, the true Trebbiano Abruzzese). Here, the climate is continental, and the terrain is certainly mountainous, which packs the wines full of character. Spontaneous fermentations, long macerations, extended aging, and late releases are all part of what makes these wines so special, but also that they are clean and precise, something that is too often lost in the “natural” and “traditional” winemaking category. When I taste through the portfolio of Praesidium, the producers that come to mind are the likes of Emidio Pepe, Paolo Bea and Arianna Occhipinti, which is some pretty good company to keep. Praesidium falls in the category of those producers that make more serious wines of depth, coupled with long-term aging potential, but without the overuse of oak. The style is old-school and traditional, yet far from rustic.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (11/21)

    In Stock