Abruzzo is a tough place to get to (I remember taking a 5 hour train ride from Rome to Pescara) but when you do get there you are rewarded with one of Italy’s most wild and natural regions. The territory is a harsh one, in fact it’s almost 70% mountainous, and the local farmers have learned to best utilize their surroundings.
In the southern part of the region you find Cantine Mucci, a stones throw from the Abruzzo coast, in a lovely little village Torino di Sangro. Here, my Mucci ancestors left for America close to a hundred years ago, and I’m sure it was difficult to leave such a beautiful area behind.
Upon arrival to Cantine Mucci, I was almost always greeted by “nonno” Valentino, who until his recent passing, was usually in the field grabbing some vegetables for dinner. He would hand his granddaughter Aurelia (now together with her brother Valentino, the face of Cantine Mucci) and I some fave beans to snack on as we enjoyed a lovely sunny afternoon in the vineyard. Valentino was an integral part of the team, as he would spend at least an hour a day bottling Cantine Mucci wines.
Here, family is always most important. There is also a great deal of passion and respect for the environment in the creation of fantastic wines made from the best local grapes Abruzzo has to offer.
Luigi Mucci created Cantine Mucci in 1895, preaching this respect and care for the vineyards that is apparent in the glass. Today, three generations of Muccis work together hand in hand to create Pecorino, Falanghina, Montepulciano and Trebbiano among others.
Dinner on the coast in the land of the Trabocchi, old spider-like fishing docks, is a great way to get a feel for the local cuisine. Marinated anchovies, whole fish soups, and grilled octopus are just a few dishes that can be enjoyed with a local Pecorino and Cerasuolo. Meals start with the rose (Cerasuolo) whose fattiness and tannin help cut through some of the heartier fish antipasti. Pasta and clams most likely come next. And don’t forget a whole fish preparation just when you thought you had no room left in your stomach. Kelsey and I always joke that we spend more time eating than doing anything else on our wine travels, but nowhere is this more true than when we are with family in Abruzzo.