Spotlight on Indigenous Italian White Wine: Valentini Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo 2010

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Valentini is one of the most important wine producers in Italy and many in North America have not heard of them. One of the reasons is that the estate has always dodged attention, choosing not to have a website and keeping many of its practices secretive. After Edoardo Valentini died in 2006, his son Francesco took over and maintained a similar approach.

Valentini is famous for its white, made from the indigenous (and much maligned) trebbiano abruzzese grape. Galloni reports that Valentini owns an older biotype of this grape that has lower yields than typical and is propagated via massale selection.

Winemaking

The estate has been growing grapes since the 1600’s, but the modern winemaking began in 1956. As with all great estates, continuity and obsessive attention to detail reign at Valentini: only 10% of the actual grape production is used in the wine, with the rest being sold. That statistic alone is astonishing and clarifies why the wines are so rare, expensive and impressive. Pressing is via basket press and fermentation in concrete and old Slavonian oak casks, some of which date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Of course, fermentation is and always has been with indigenous yeasts.

Of particular interest is the winery’s technique of having malolactic fermentation occur in bottle. This is done to allow carbon dioxide to form in the bottle as a preservative, which allows less SO2 use. The gas escapes when the bottles are opened.

The Wine

The wine itself is powerful and extremely complex. It has considerable dry extract and can clearly age decades. I would compare it to top quality Chablis except that it has greater austerity and less fruit. It’s exceptional, inimitable wine that, if it were made in a more famous region would cost twice as much.

Excellent
$80-$100 USD at various outlets

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