Tenuta del Priore is a family-owned Abruzzese cantina making classic Abruzzo Bianco, Pecorino, Passerina, Montepulciano & Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo wines from 53ha of vineyards near the village of Collecorvino, in the province of Pescara; 75% of the estate is devoted to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The vineyards are located high up in sight of the Adriatic Sea, on calcareous clay, morainic & silty soils rich with (calc) stones among the Colline Pescaresi & close to Pescara & the Adriatic sea. Indeed their top, 4.5ha, Montepulciano vineyard, ‘Filiani’ (after the previous owner), lies but 3km from the seaside at a breezy c.270m asl on a range of silty limestone hills close to the village of Città Sant’Angelo, within the DOCG zone of Colline Teramo in the provincia of Atri. Its fruit goes into the ‘Kerrias’ label.
The property has been owned by the Mazzocchetti family for many generations, who started bottling their wines in 1973. Fabrizio Mazzocchetti (pictured left) is the latest generation to assume responsibility for the estate, along with his father Antonio. Notably Fabrizio learned his trade outside Abruzzo, attending wine school in Florence before honing his (white) wine-making skills in Alto Adige at the the famous San Michele Appiano cantina, Bolzano. Fabrizio’s first vintage was in 2001 & since then he has worked hard to fine-tune the viticulture & vinification. From 2017 Fabrizio has been working hard to bring more clarity, rigour & definition to his ‘Col del Mondo’ Montepulciano. A slightly earlier harvest date, less (new) barriques, plus the adoption of Clyuver cermaic eggs for l’affinamento has definitely helped.
Giovanna Fabrizii, Fabrizio’s wife, manages him, their two boys, & the office!
They are proud of their ‘Campotino’ range of wines, that delivers high quality, terroir expressive, affordable drinking from younger, guyot-trained vines in cooler spots with lighter soils. The whites (Abruzzo Bianco, Pecorino & Passerina) are expertly made to give clear fruit expression & a sense of place, without the use of oak; as does the rosato Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo & the inky purple Montepulciano d’Abruzzo; refined in cement tanks.
Fabrizio also makes a ‘Col del Mondo‘ range, which he started when he joined the business. This range comes from older 21yo + spur-trained vines planted in more favourable, white calcareous clay & morainic soils over looking the Adriatic.
Harvesting of the white grapes usually takes place in this order: Pecorino, Trebbiano, Passerina & lastly Fiano (di Avellino)
Stelvin, DIAM5 & Amorim NDTech corks
‘Campotino’ Abruzzo Bianco, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino
‘Campotino’ Pecorino, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino
‘Campotino’ Passerina, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino
‘Campotino’ Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Collecorvino
‘Campotino’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Collecorvino
‘Col del Mondo’ Abruzzo Bianco ‘Sunnae’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino
‘Col del Mondo’ Pecorino ‘Kerrias’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino
‘Col del Mondo’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Terre dei Vestini, Collecorvino
‘Col del Mondo’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Kerrias’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino
2019 Abruzzo Bianco ‘Campotino’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted bottled April’20, 13.20%, Total Acidity 5.75, pH 3.46, RSugar 1.81g/litro, Total sulphur 128mg/litro (33 free). Slight change to the blend in 2019, as Fabrizio chose to use more Fiano than Passerina, than in 2018: 50% Trebbiano, 30% Fiano, 20% Passerina. Bright pale young gold, sea breezy, lemon pith, lovely intensity of citrus, sea-salt & limestone elements. The stronger 2019 vintage giving an extra degree of everything. The Trebbiano gives spine & a tingling currant zip, the Fiano (di Avellino) a soapy lemon presence, the Passerina a honeydew charm. Compact, perfectly balanced, a classic expression of those underrated Pescara hills that overlook the Adriatic sea below. Love this blend, & the way Fabrizio brings out the best of Abruzzo!
2018 Abruzzo Bianco ‘Campotino’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted March’19, 13%, pale citrus white, immediate whiff of the mare Adriatico, with this breezy bright, racy, lime-stone, pith, grassy, crystal clear notes; proof of the benefit of the blend, here 50% Trebbiano, 30% Passerina, 20% Fiano. The Trebbiano gives the raciness; the Passerina the suave pretty fruit; the Fiano a bit of lemon pith structure. Indeed it’s very lemon pithy, with a quasi Melon de Bourgogne/Muscadet salinity; the palate is light but not vacuous, pebbly greengage fruit abound, briny, stone fruit, bright, immensely drinkable as an Aperitivo or with fish antipasti. Delizioso, a real taste of the Adriatic! Simplest is best?!
2019 Pecorino ‘Campotino’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted bottled April’20, 13.90%, TA6.05, pH 3.49, RS1.91, Total sulphur 109 (28 free), from eight-year vines, the 2019 vintage is bright & glinting, there’s that tell-tale orange tinge. Wow! What a nose: Gewurztraminer d’Alsace esque, exotic with passion-fruit, there’s freshness & focus, really crunchy & exciting. Gorgeous, compact, there’s a hint of skins/phenolics from a brief maceration, just enough, coiled curranty fruit, driven freshness & easy balance throughout. All totally integrated, peachy texture, but also sapid & cleansing. Fabrizio told me they could afford to wait before harvesting, which clearly paid off! A total winner! Diam or Stelvin closure.
2018 Pecorino ‘Campotino’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted March’19, 13.5%, more intense than the Passerina, overall a more dynamic, punching above its weight wine, both in ripeness (alcohol) & supporting structure: indeed, hearty orange peel & spice notes, rich & purposeful, a strong characterful wine – a bowl of fruit! The palate is a Bay of Plenty, with orange pulp, sapid spremuta, strident, fairly full & rich. Ticking many boxes, now one understands why
2019 Passerina ‘Campotino’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted bottled April’20, 12.99%, TA6.50, pH3.24, RS2.8, Total sulphur 113 (28 free). Passerina is the penultimate to be harvested, & retains relatively high acidity & low pH to give a minerally wine that will need a bit more time to find its feet. The 2.8g/litro of unfermented sugar sticks out a bit at the moment, but with bottle age should melt into the overall wine. Small berried, gold in colour, there’s a distinct acacia, currant, honeydew/peach note to the wine. Much fruitier then compared to the salty Abruzzo Bianco. More seductive then, with a juicy, suave, peach sciropo palate, honeyed but with white currant crunch. Singular. Needs a bit of time in bottle. DIAM sealed.
2018 Passerina ‘Campotino’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted March’19, 13%, more intense in colour, it follows that the nose is more textured, singular, more obvious lemon, soapstone, pulpier; the palate ditto, oranges & lemons, suave, flowing, beady white (currant) fruit, that Adriatic salty spine, yet juicy, fresh clementine fruit!
2019 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Campotino’, Collecorvino – tasted bottled April’20, 14.07%, TA 5.15, pH 3.77, RS 1.33g/litro, Total sulphur 87mg/litro (34 free). Pretty violet edged purple/ink, there’s a kernel of raspberry/dark cherry, even Pinot-esque (Hautes Cotes de Nuits?!), violet scented, pepper too. The strong vintage means an extra gear of ripeness (& abv), & also of focus compared to the softer, lighter 2018. Still reeling a bit from the bottling, it’s more medium than light, juicy, bright, blueberry/Blaufrankisch esque, the supplest of fruit tannins, cool but pointed fruit, along with a lovely sense of ease, of drinkability. Available under Twin-discs or Stelvin closures.
2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Campotino’, Collecorvino – Tasted April 2019, 13.5% abv. Bottled mid-April. Crunchy, juicy, peppery, cooler and a little more elegant than the 2017. Lots of hedgerow fruit – blackberry, bramble, juicy redcurrants. 1 week maceration, until end of fermentation. 100% stainless steel/cement. (Fabrizio believes that cement improves the clarity of the wine). Fruit forward and delicious
2019 ‘Col del Mondo’ Abruzzo Bianco ‘Sunnae’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – bottled April’20, 13.43%, Total acidity (TA)5.90g/l, pH3.32, RS1.8g/l, total sulphur125mg/l (35 free), a classic Abruzzese blend of 60% Trebbiano, 20% Passerina, 20% Pecorino (fermented in barriques only), the rest vinified in stainless-steel, sealed with DIAM5. Fabrizio refers to 2019 as the vintage in which Trebbiano reached perfect maturation, turning an orangey colour (big bunches, loose small berries): a pale yellow/gold, the nose thrills with lemon pith, an exciting Adriatic sea-breezy fresh, limestone presence, ciccia, & salivating (ala Pavlov). Medium bodied, suave, a dash of cream from the Pecorino, pulpy, lemon/oranges spremuta fresh, alive, lots of pretty suave fruit. Yum.
2018 ‘Col del Mondo’ Abruzzo Bianco ‘Sunnae’, Colline Pescaresi IGT, Collecorvino – tasted March’19, 13.5%, compared to the ‘Campotino’ version, Fabrizio’s Col del Mondo expression is overall riper & more polished, perhaps benefitting from the older vines, lower guyot trellised yields & the substitution of the Fiano with Pecorino! More intense lemon gold, the ‘Sunnae’ is more lemongrass, lime cordial even, still crystal clear & racy (Trebbiano!), there’s a juicy sense of greengage fruit, of sapid, marine salt, lime, & perhaps some white pepper on the finish. Impressive, & still grounded.
2019 ‘Col del Mondo’ Pecorino ‘Kerrias’ – bottled April’20, 14.90%, Total acidity (TA)7.70g/l, pH3.40, RS1.65g/l, total sulphur147mg/l (14 free); an amazing wine that wears its prodigious alcohol very lightly, which Fabrizio reminds us is due to Pecorino producing lots of acidity, as well as sugar. Richer also in colour & intensity, the nose is wonderfully expressive of super-ripe lemons & oranges, almost beurre-blanc richness, yet 100% stainless-steel & cement, hints of Riesling or Timorasso, even of Chenin’s apple core, the aromas are layered & compelling. On the palate, there’s a gorgeous sciropo texture, compact measured, lovely lines & rigour, exotic citrus spremuta, great energy & balance, Chardonnay-esque even. His finest yet!
2018 ‘Col del Mondo’ Pecorino ‘Kerrias’ – tasted April 2019, 14% abv. Richer, rounder and more complex than its ‘Campotino’ counterpart. Perfectly ripe fruit, which means a fraction more alcohol, but with low pH. The vines are 200m asl. As the Pecorino ripens 1 month earlier than the Montepulciano (usually harvested by September at the latest), it benefits from Northern exposure, allowing for slower ripening. The terroir is calcareous and rich in minerals, giving a complex wine, that has a weighty and expansive mid-palate, with waxy lemon, citrus, and stone fruit, a hint of quince, and lovely purity. 100% stainless steel, with 4 months in cement tanks on fine lees. Lingering salinity on the finish – this is more of a food wine than the entry level Pecorino. It’s weight and texture would pair well with cheeses and fish or chicken dishes with creamy sauces.
2017 ‘Col del Mondo’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Terre dei Vestini’, Collecorvino – bottled April’20, 14.90%, Total acidity (TA)5.75g/l, pH3.74, RS1.27g/l, total sulphur85mg/l (33free); Fabrizio refers to 2017 as the perfect year for Montepulciano, the season just dry & hot enough to ripen the abundant amounts of phenols/tannins in the fruit: double those of Nebbiolo! Deep & dark, the nose is generous, mentholated rich, compote, blackberry/blueberry/black forest gâteau ripe, earthy & graphite fresh too; not over the top, full but really focused. Full on the palate thanks to a high clay content in the soil, broad, succulent, sooty black fruit, the silkiest of tannins, heady but again, composed & together. You can see why Fabrizio rates this vintage (over 2016) as it’s rich, generous but also fresh & defined; again, it wears its alcohol lightly & ageing the wine for 12 mths in 85% used barriques + 15% 45HL botte helped in this regard. Really impressive. Sealed with an NDTech.
2016 ‘Col del Mondo’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Terre dei Vestini’, Collecorvino – Tasted April 2019, 14%. Vintage 2016 was a cool vintage, similar to 2018. The standout quality of this wine is also due to the fact that Fabrizio chose not to release his top expression of Montepulciano, ‘Kerrias’, so the fruit was diverted into the ‘Terre dei Vestini’ instead! Fruit from Fabrizio’s oldest Montepulciano vines, high up on the hills (300m asl), a land once occupied by the Vestini tribe who fought running battles with the Romans around the 4th century BC. This is the wine that Fabrizio feels champions the Tenuta del Priore and Col del Mondo terroir (calcareous, clay and marl, rich in morainic material). The wine has 1 yr in barrique adds some complexity, gently sculpting and refining the tannins. Dark cherry, blackberry, liquorice and prune. Much fuller and more serious than its ‘Campotino’ counterpart…retasted April ’20, rich but compact, measured & coolly composed (like Fabrizio!), there’s a profondita both in colour & nose that’s compelling: deep dark inky violet/purple, the nose holds back nicely, with forest floor, griotte, dark cherry sotto spirito notes, blackberry/hedgerow, a hint of pine & almost cream; a wine you feel you can dive into, like a deep blue lagoon! The full but not over-the-top palate is generous yet tailored, succulent yet straight-laced, the swollen, open-hearted, mulberry, ash & clove fruit is seductive & more-ish. Love the way it gives so much but doesn’t lose its shape. So fresh, compact, crunchy, with lots of pulsating energy & cherry kirsch fruit (grazie ‘Kerrias’!). Really good & already irresistible!
2017 ‘Col del Mondo’ Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Kerrias’, Collecorvino – bottled April’20, 14.70%, Total acidity (TA)5.80g/l, pH3.79, RS1.05g/l, total sulphur81mg/l (35free); in keeping with the exceptional vintage conditions for Montepulciano, Fabrizio has made his finest ‘Kerrias’ yet. The fruit for this fine wine comes from the ‘Filiani’ vineyard nearby, within the Colline Teramo DOCG zone (provincia di Atri) close to the village of Città Sant’Anglo, a mere 3km from the sea, at c.270m asl on a hill, vines planted in 1996, spur pruned vines on bright white silty limestone soils that reflect the Arbuzzese light back into the canopy to arrive at brilliant ripeness! So a well-ventilated site, giving great ripeness & freshness. The key he said was bringing the harvest slightly forward (from early October’17), to capture the energy & freshness. Also key in 2017 was the use, for the first time of (60%) ceramic ageing tanks, instead of botte or barriques; again keeping the freshness. He also used 40% of barriques for 12mths, & did not fine nor filter the wine (so as to avoid robbing it of any character). Compared to the dark, bruising, masculine ‘Terre dei Vestini’, his ‘Kerrias’ is a paler red, alive & transparent, a hint of oak barriques on the still young nose, but it’s such a pretty, fresh, seduisant nose, with lots of perfumed red fruit & energy, that owes much to the white silty soils; a more feminine expression then. The palate follows: griottine, racy, juicy red/black fruit, pace & crunch, at its heart a gleaming cerise stone kernel, Compared to the headier 2015, Fabrizio’s 2017 is much brightier & classier.