Making organic wine in style

NEVER judge a book by its cover – nor a wine by its label.

Fortunately, the liquid inside brothers Paride and Jacapo d’Angelo’s bottles lives up to the promise of its packaging.

The siblings have been making wine in Italy’s Abruzzo region for the past seven years, having learned about wine at the feet of their father, a contributor to the Duemilavini annual wine guide.

Paride is a former Italian sommelier of the year, while Jacapo is in charge of their wine making.

They farm their vines organically, as was the tradition in many parts of rural Italy, France and Spain, where synthetic chemicals would have been too expensive.

The brothers’ wines have been certified as organic and they even go a step further and follow some biodynamic practices, although they haven’t sought accredition.

Their wines certainly have that clarity to their aromas and flavours that seems to come from organic farming.

And those concentrated smells and tastes were certainly on show last night during an online tasting run by Unique Wine Safaris, which imports the brothers’ wines into the UK and which is running tours to Abruzzo next month.

As well as being champions of traditional farming, the brothers are also fans of their local varieties, including cococciola, a white grape that would traditionally have been blended with trebbiano, but which is now enjoying a resurgence under its own steam, both in Abruzzo and further south in Puglia.

Their 2019 Paride d’Angelo Cococciola (£9.86) had quite an old fashioned nose, with savoury lemon rind and nutty marzipan notes.

It came to life on the palate though, with much brighter fruit flavours, centring around lemon and grapefruit, with a twist of lime on its long finish.

The acidity was bright and fresh, making it a good contender as an aperitif in its own right or to serve alongside pan-fried fish.

The 2018 Paride d’Angelo Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (£9.86) shared that same fresh acidity and had a similarly-interesting mix of aromas, ranging from red cherry and red plum notes through to a floral lift.

On the palate, the red fruit was much crisper, focusing on redcurrant and cranberry, finishing on a fresh strawberry note.

The wine gained its pink colour from the montepulciano grape juice being left in contact with its skins for eight hours, which also imparted some tannic texture to the finished wine, lending itself to being served alongside cold meats and hard cheeses.

While the grapes for the pink wine grew on 45-year-old vines, the fruit for the 2019 Paride d’Angelo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (£10.46) came from 65-year-old plants, bringing extra depth of flavour to the mix.

The intensity of the organic fruit really came to the fore, with a heady mix of black cheery, damson, violet and cedar on the nose.

There’s lots of structure here, but plenty of concentrated redder fruit and vanilla flavours to balance the crisp acidity and well-integrated tannins.

As we saw earlier in the lockdown with the Cantina Tollo co-operative and the bottles stocked by Bellissimo Vino, there are so many exciting organic wines coming from Abruzzo and the Paride d’Angelo brand is definitely one to watch.

Read more of Peter’s wine, beer and spirits reviews on his drinks blog, The Grape & The Grain.