Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Italy, 2012
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Overview of the Wine
This estate is too good to be true. The wines are amongst the best in Italy, the reds famous and the whites, in my view, just as good, and equally beautiful with age; the family that produces them is charming, three generations from Emidio himself (elegant in flat cap and red sweater vest) to his lovely, enthusiastic grand-daughter Chiara, who handles export markets, not to forget Emidio’s daughters Daniela and Sofia, who now run the winery; and the wines have been grown naturally and vinified using traditional techniques since the first vintage in 1964, perhaps the oldest and most genuine ‘natural wines’ in Italy, and not a hipster in sight. It’s just too perfect, the epitome of all good things in Old World viticulture; and it’s all real. Did I mention that the wines are breathtaking? And the Pepe family have a huge aging cellar where they keep large stocks of old wines, which are decanted to order by Emidio’s wife Rosa, so you can order old bottles of Pepe knowing that they’re genuine and that they’ve been stored perfectly. Ridiculous.
The winemaking is a complete throwback, nothing changed in a hundred years. The vineyards are planted using plants from massal selection of their own oldest vineyards, not clones, and are farmed biodynamically.
Grape / Blend
Very deep red-black when young, with aromas and flavors of raw meat, black fruit (including blackcurrant), expensive leather, hints of bacon, ink, and dry-cured olive; a big, beefy wine but not bitter or alcoholic, surprisingly fresh in most vintages for such a substantial wine. Older bottles shade to Hermitage-like brickish red with aromas and flavors of berries, roast meat, forest-floor, dried orange-peel, and many others, with superb elegant texture. My definition of fine wine is that it’s indescribable, and words fail me here. One of Italy’s best aged reds.
94 Points - Wine Enthusiast
There's depth and richness to the dark plum and cherry fruit on the nose, with heaps of fresh oregano, thyme and field flowers chiming in. This iconic estate winery located in the province of Teramo is one of the leaders of biodynamics in the region, which translates to the purity and balance of the fruit in this wine. Fleshy yet taut plum and dark cherry flavors are framed by polished tannins and fresh acidity, with more herbs chiming in on the lingering finish. It's enjoyable now but could hold well through 2028.
92 Points - Vinous
The 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Vecchie Vigne is smoky, meaty and packed full of dark fruit intensity. Notes of black currant, wild brush herbs, white pepper and tobacco can be found from start to finish. It’s soft upon entry and almost fragile in feel, with a tactile mix of nervous acidity and grippy young tannins that keep the expression achingly youthful. There are depths of tart woodland berries and savory spices fighting to surface from beneath the 2012’s hulking structure, yet only time will tell if they’ll ever succeed, as today, this is all elbows and knees.
Product size: 750ml