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Iconic Italian comes to Irish market

Abruzzo has long been a leading supplier of easy drinking, unremarkable house wines, but its signature grape, montepulician, is not to be underestimated.

Unlike Tuscany, Abruzzo is not an Italian region closely associated with famed, iconic wines. Rather the reverse – it has long been a leading supplier of easy drinking, unremarkable house wines to the Italian restaurants of the world. But its signature grape, montepulician, is actually a quality variety when it’s not over-cropped, and there have always been some seriously good producers, even if their names are not widely known to consumers. One of these is Masciarelli, maker of benchmark (and expensive) chardonnay and surprisingly well-priced montepulciano. Gianni Mascarelli who pioneered the improvements at the estate some decades ago died recently, but his family is continuing his work.

The wines, which should have been in Ireland years ago, are being imported at last by agents Honest2Goodness, who are based in Glasnevin, Dublin. They are also importing the wines of Abruzzo maker, Luigi Valori, and a couple of weeks ago they staged both a trade and consumer tasting, the latter hosted by The Corkscrew off-licence.

I attended the consumer event and was very pleasantly surprised by the large attendance. The wines received a big thumbs up with top votes clearly going to the fresh, well made Valori Trebbiano Abruzzo 2009 (€14 retail) and the delicious and elegant Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2007 (€16). Also going down very well was Masciarelli Rosato 2009 (€15). This isn’t cheap for a rosé, but it’s flavoursome and concentrated, with some structure and length. Tasters felt that it would be a good wine for a red wine lover, on a summer’s day.

If you want to sample the wines yourself, they are in stock now at The Corkscrew. Agents Honest2Goodness can be contacted at colum@honest2goodness.ie

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