2019 Tiberio "Archivio" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy
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ABOUT THIS WINE
Intensely aromatic, powerful and elegant. Smoky, dark and red cherry fruit with spices. Flavors of violets, roses and liquorice. Smooth, vibrant and fresh. The Archivio is a “single vineyard” Montepulciano d’Abruzzo coming from a specific 1.2 hectare portion of our historical 2.5 hectare vineyard, planted to 65 years old Montepulciano vines. It is from this vineyard that over the years we identified, selected and then propagated our massal selections of Montepulciano vines with which we have planted all our Montepulciano vineyards.
The Archivio is a special portion of this larger vineyard because it is the only plot on the whole property that has a strong clay presence in the subsoil (limestone soil – subsoil with presence of clay and iron oxide). The Montepulciano that grows in the Archivio vineyard has different characteristics and so do the wines that are made with it. It is from this vineyard that we identified four different Montepulciano biotypes that look and behave differently from other known Montepulciano biotypes and clones. Therefore, it represents our estates’s historical Montepulciano vines library, or archive (hence the wine’s name: “archivio” in Italian translates to archive). The four biotypes have been named after our estate’s dogs, who are as much a part of our family’s history as the wines we make. Differences between the four biotypes are numerous, but these can be generalized in: one biotype is characterized by smaller round berries with thicker skins that reach full physiologic polyphenol ripeness with greater ease, Tione98 ; a second biotype that has grapes with thin skins (and therefore a lower skin to pulp ratio with more juice) and higher acidity levels, Quarmari15 ; a third by a much longer bunch and it is the latest ripening of the four, Diana18 (do keep in mind Montepulciano is a late ripening variety as it is): and a fourth biotype characterized by a very round leaf instead of the more typical multi-lobed, jagged leaf and by seeds that only rarely turn completely brown (therefore delivering a much more tannic wine that is nonetheless more often than not nobly tannic despite the seeds not turning colour fully) Otto19 .
The spontaneous fermentation carried out with natural, vineyard-specific yeasts only reaches higher temperatures, indicating how this specific yeast population is adapted to a specific environment and able to work at higher temperatures and lead to deeper natural extraction of polyphenols. The result is a wine that is at once fresh and elegant but also quite powerful, with darker colour, aromas and flavours, and greater density than our other Montepulcianos, a profile that is fully expressive of the wine’s specific terroir. For these reasons, and unlike all our other wines, the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Archivio is partly aged in oak (barriques, 30% new). The use of the barriques is not out of a desire to make an oak-aged wine, but rather a consequence of the wine’s specific characteristics and need for a greater amount of oxygenation.
ABOUT THIS PRODUCER
The story of 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 above sea level, twenty-three miles inland from the seaside city of Pescara, near the lovely medieval hillside town of Cugnoli, Riccardo Tiberio found a very old plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines, which, despite the variety’s name, is a rarity in Abruzzo. This is because the high quality Trebbiano Abruzzese grape (which has nothing in common with Trebbiano Toscano) had always been confused with other similar-looking but altogether different varieties in the region, that were mistakenly planted in its stead. Riccardo was so impressed and excited by his discovery of these roughly 60 years old vines that he decided to change his and his family’s destiny. As the export manager for a well known winery in the region, Riccardo knew well what truly high quality Abruzzo grapes could offer and what the modern world expected in wines.
He made the plunge in 2000, purchasing the eight hectare plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines he had fallen in love with, along with another 31 hectares of land suitable for planting and the production of single estate wines. Guided by decades of personal experience and one of Italy’s most renowned nurseries, Riccardo planted a selection of indigenous varieties matched to the different soil characteristics in the vineyard. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano Abruzzese, and Aglianico were planted along with Pecorino and Moscato di Castiglione clones from ancient vines in the area. Experiments with small plantings of international varietals were also undertaken. And so it was that when Tiberio released its first vintage in 2004, the wine cognoscenti took notice of Tiberio’s mineral whites and fruit forward reds.
In 2008, Riccardo Tiberio handed over the reins of the winery to his highly competent children, daughter Cristiana and son Antonio. The role of viticulturalist goes to Antonio while Cristiana handles the winemaking duties. She is a chemistry graduate with training stints in Champagne and Australia backed by repeated visits to the Mosel and Chablis. In 2011 she took over all the winemaking duties and is now solely responsible for the wines made at the estate. At that time, Antonio and Cristiana also decided to uproot the international varieties and to replace them with more Pecorino and Trebbiano Abruzzese. They chose to use massal selections from their oldest vines because over the years they found that their massal selections gave much deeper, more complex, and altogether better wines than those made from clonal selections.