The story of Azienda Agricola Tiberio rings more like a new world tale than one from the old world of the ancient lands beneath the Majella and Gran Sasso mountains in Abruzzo. At 350 meters, twenty three miles inland from the seaside city of Pescara near the hillside town of Cugnoli, Riccardo Tiberio found an old plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines roughly 50 years old so impressive that he decided to change his and his family’s destiny.
Pretty in pink, yet verging on red and packed full of character, the 2020 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo lifts up from the glass with beguiling depths of crushed stone, wild strawberries, nectarine and zesty citrus. It’s vibrant, seeming to sizzle upon the senses with pent-up tension, as ripe red fruits ride a wave of stimulating acidity, leaving sweet inner florals in their wake. Enriching notes of spice, pomegranate and cherry pits linger through the long, slightly grippy and mouthwatering finale. Pour me another, please. This wine is made from a single vineyard with clay soils and a southern exposure, which was specifically tailored to grow Montepulciano for Cerasuolo. I thought it was interesting to hear from Cristiana Tiberio that she prefers to drink these wines young to properly enjoy the framing tannins that soften a bit too much over time. That said, you could easily cellar this for a number of years. PS: The vibrant color comes from all free-run juice. 2021 – 2023
Producer Commentary from Eric Guido, June 2021:
I feel as if watching the Tiberio family grow along with their wines has been a priceless experience. It’s been about eight years since I began tasting and talking with Cristiana Tiberio. In that time, I’ve experienced verticals of their Trebbiano, Pecorino (yes, I said Pecorino) and Trebbiano Abruzzese Fonte Canale, all with eye-opening results that have provided me with paradigm shifts regarding how these varieties can age. It’s funny to think that the one vertical I’ve yet to experience is the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – yet that just goes to show the faith that this family has in their whites. That said, have no fear about this estate’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, because over the years, Cristiana Tiberio has been experimenting with different parcels and biotypes in her vineyards, which first resulted in the 2014 Colle Vota (https://vinous.com/articles/cellar-favorite-2014-tiberio-montepulciano-d-abruzzo-colle-vota-oct-2020), and now also in the inaugural release of the 2017 Archivio. Through it all, Tiberio’s all-stainless-steel-refined Montepulciano d’Abruzzo seems to just keep getting better. These conversations and tastings always bring surprises as well, one being how the Tiberios’ ability to cull a bit of magic from more difficult vintages. For instance, there’s selecting 2017 to be the first release of Archivio, which is the first wine to see any wood refinement in the winery (30% of the juice is done in barrique), and from a vintage that was incredibly difficult and warm – yet it yielded an amazingly harmonious wine. Another surprise was how they turned the 40% loss of fruit in 2019 into one of the most intense and packed-full-of-potential expressions of the house Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (also with a Colle Vota and Archivio in the works). As for Fonte Canale, it remains one of the best white wines being made in Italy today, and the 2018 is a vintage that should not be missed. Frankly stated, in a region that is often backward, still enamored with the overuse of wood, pushing ripeness levels of their Pecorino into the tropical zone, and releasing more substandard Trebbiano than you can keep track of, Tiberio is like a beacon. They are easily one of the top three producers in the region.
The vibrant pinkish-red color of this rosé, made from montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, is enticing, packed with pure flavors of pomegranates, herbs, and spice. You’ll find wines from this terrific family estate on the very best restaurant wine lists.
ITALY’S BEST BUY WINES OF 2021 – January 2022
Bright pink. Red berries and pink flowers dominate on the fresh nose and palate. Finishes with a whiplash of balanced acidity and noteworthy sucrosité. Juicy and yummy, this is just another level of Rosato wine. One sip of something like this, and you realize immediately that you need to start all over again, from the beginning, to understand Rosato wines and just how good they can be. And don’t miss out on the Pecorino, which is often this estate’s best wine and that this year is even better than usual and I almost picked over the Cerasuolo.