When I received an invitation to the Slow Wine 2020 US Tour stop in New York City, I had to ask myself if I understood when “Slow” means with regard to wine. I didn’t. I still don’t. So I went to the show on February 24 and enjoyed a great seminar and tasting of Cerasuolo (“Cherry”) d’Abruzzo Rosé wines, ones I’d never tasted and had barely heard of. And then I went around the tables and sampled about another 10 or 12 supposedly “slow” wines. At least I did the tasting…slowly.
When I got home to Jersey, I clicked on the link to the Slow Wine Tour website. And I still didn’t—and don’t—know what they’re trying to say. On the page that’s supposed to explain, I found all of three paragraphs…total…that said nothing. Well, almost nothing. I did note this marvelously ambiguous gem: “For the first time, the pioneering Italian wine critics looked not just to the quality of the wines: They also took into consideration the wineries’ sustainable farming practices and the winemakers’ “Slowphilosophy,” as Gariglio has put it, “which continues to be increasingly important to consumers in wine and food globally.”
OK, but what IS the “Slowphilosophy (Slowosophy)?” There were a lot of Italian wines there, but also quite a few American ones; so, it’s not one continent or country. Some were labeled organic; others were raised using “sustainable practices.” Still others were marked “sustainable.” But these practices and terms have been in use for years. The last part of the final paragraph notes “70 producers were selected and added to the 2018 (Slow Wine) guide. Now, moving into Oregon is a significant step for the Slow Wine Guide, as the pioneering state is home to internationally-celebrated wine-producing areas. Oregon’s commitment to sustainable wine-making and respect for the terroir is consistent with Slow Wine’s principles and its mission to support local agriculture.”
Well, to me ALL agriculture is local; you can’t move the land. And how does one “disrespect the terroir?” and what winemaker would say they did? I dunno.
Much or most of this seems to be the kind of silliness that the wine world can’t afford, because it makes understanding, tasting and enjoying wine more opaque and “mystical” at a time when spirits and craft beers are kicking wine’s ass.
But I must say the six Ceraluso d’Abruzzos we tasted at the seminar were interesting, delicious, unusual and to me, unanticipated.
These wines come from a territory on the east side of the peninsula, roughly opposite where Rome sits. There are lots of lakes and a lot of biodiversity, and you can go from the sea to the mountains in 40 minutes. Before the 1950s, the vineyards were situated closer to the center of the peninsula, but they were then moved, in turns, closer to the Mediterranean to clay and sand soils. More than 80% of the production of the region comes from five provinces of Chieti, from 32 of the 40 co-ops there, and 70% of the grapes are Montepulciano.
Ceraluso d’Abruzzo is the first DOC in Italy to be dedicated to rose wines. As I mentioned, Ceraluso means “Cherry” and these great wines enjoy the structure of the red Montepulciano grape, with the freshness more like a brisk white wine. Here are the six wines we tasted:
Tenute Barone di Valforte DOC 2019: With a color like the fine roses of Provence, this wine has bright and lasting acidity and a strawberry bouquet. At 12.5 % ABV it’s also a wine that won’t put you horizontal in a hurry.
Terzini Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC 2018: A dark pink bubblegum color, it’s brisk but not bracing like the Valforte. Balanced, with real red fruit flavors. Alcohol a little higher at 14%.
Tenuta Terraviva Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Giusi 2018: This wine comes from the very north part of the region, with vines from 1-200 meters above sea level. It’s unfined and unfiltered—great for Vegans—gets only about 2-3 hours of skin contact and uses native yeast. Certified organic, easy-drinking wine, 12.5 ABV.
Tenuta I Fauri Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC Baldovino 2018: This is a “very cherry” red-colored wine, macerated inside the press if you care about that kind of thing (geek). Brisk and rather powerful for a pink wine, and straddles the others at 13.5% ABV.
Torre dei Beati Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC Rosa-ae 2018: Named after the1400s frescoed Church of St. Maria in Piano, it’s Pomegranite-fruity and balanced, uses native yeast, 13.5% ABV.
Masciarelli Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC Villa Gemma 2018: From the Chieti Province, these vineyards are located adjacent to olive groves, too, and the vines are 30+ years old. The juice gets a full day of skin contact. Bright cherry flavor and more than a hint of tannin.