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Emidio Pepe 2014 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy

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The 2014 vintage was made by Sophia Pepe, the youngest daughter of Emidio. 
planted 1966 & 1974 in pergola. 2014 is a much colder vintage, which Chiara Pepe says allows more agility and is more dynamic than warmer or more structured vintages
  • Winemaker: Sofia Pepe
  • Farming: Biodynamic
  • Variety: Pecorino 100%
  • Terroir: Sourced from 1.7 HA of Pecorino vines planted in a north facing estate vineyard.
  • Vinification: Hand harvested, destemmed. Spontaneous fermentated in 22HL glass-lined concrete tank. After two years, wine goes into bottle, and all aging occurs there. Everytime they decide to release, they decant and rebottle all wines over 20 years old and recork. No oak anywhere on the property.  
  • Tasting Notes (Simi Grewal) - Tart black fruits of sour cherr, sour pomegranate, fresh mission fig. LOTS of acidity. Wet sandalwood. Fresh wet tobacco. Full Body, high tannnin, m+ alch. m+ astruingency. long finish. still so young and fresh, with earthy notes of rooibos tea and fresh tilled soil. Slightly herbal, with notes of licorice root. Grippy tannins that enhance the young, sour fruit notes. Needs 5-10 years of aging. When you are ready to open, these wines should be not be decanted into a decanter. Instead, pop the cork and hour before you want to start enjoying, and let the wine breath in the glass as you enjoy. This wine will ebb and flow and transform as it sits in your glass.

From our 2022 Serious Inquiries Club Notes:

Emidio Pepe | Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy | 2014

    In early May of this year, we were fortunate to sit down to a private tasting at Decant with Chiara Pepe, the granddaughter of Emidio Pepe and winemaker at the legendary Abbruzzese estate since 2020. Emidio Pepe is widely considered one of the true original masters of modern natural winemaking. In 1964, recognizing the quality of his family's vines, Emidio transitioned their single hectare farm from a bulk-production vineyard to a wine-producing house. In the beginning, Emidio ascribed to the popular mechanized farming techniques but soon realized that this would mean frequent costly investments to keep up with each year's new technological developments. In a leap of faith, he abandoned the tricks of modernization and forged ahead with the risky endeavor of manual farming and minimalistic winemaking. For him, this meant a painstaking commitment to organic farming, manual harvests, hand bottling, and ultimately, babysitting his wines for years--sometimes decades--before releasing them to the public. The risk paid off, and today the family continues to organically farm 17 hectares of land while running a picturesque agriturismo.

  One unique point of the Pepe methodology is how they release their wines. In the first year after bottling, Emidio Pepe releases 10% of their stock, then no more than 3-5% per year after. The family tastes every vintage in their cellars annually and will only release a vintage when they believe it is ready to drink, as the wines of Abruzzo are notoriously tannic and structured, requiring patience to be properly enjoyed. Every time they decide to release a wine, any vintage over 20 years old will be hand decanted, rebottled and re-corked before leaving the winery. Today, the family's small-run releases appear and disappear on the market like phantoms in the night, lending to their mystique and consequence amongst students of wine.  

  No matter which red wine is being made, the family follows the same formula across all of their wines: hand destemming, spontaneous fermentations in 22 hectoliter concrete tanks with glass lining (which are nonporous, so there is no oxygen exposure during vinification), and rack the wines only when needed. After two years, the wine goes into bottle, and all aging occurs there. There is no oak to be found anywhere on the property, a point Chiara was sure to underline for us. The tannin and structure in these wines come from the native Montepulciano grape, which thrives under its thick, protective pergola as it slowly ripens on the vine, developing acidity and structure without becoming overly ripe or jammy. The thick leaves of the pergola are important in protecting the thin skins of the grape, known as the "velvet of  Montepulciano" for the sensation of the soft skins on the finger. Chiara says the tactile sensation of the grape skins on the finger is telling of the wine's result.

   While 2014 was a relatively cold vintage, featuring a very rainy spring and not-too-hot summer, producing wines with intense acidity. In 2014, the wines were still being made by Emidio's daughter Sophia, who held the reins until 2020. Aromas of sour black cherry, fresh mission figs, and tart pomegranate are balanced by intense herbal notes of wet sandalwood, rooibos tea, and red licorice. The wine is full-bodied with assertive, grippy tannins and a very long finish. It certainly needs 5-10 years more of aging, but can easily be laid down for another 20-30 years if you desire. When you are ready to open, these wines should not be decanted into a decanter, Chiara says. Instead, pop the cork an hour before you want to indulge, and let the wine breath in the glass as you enjoy. This wine will ebb and flow and transform as it sits in your glass, and should be enjoyed alongside a hearty and memorable meal. —Simi Grewal

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