It’s amazing to watch Cristiana Tiberio’s star rising so fast. She has only been fully responsible for the winemaking at her family’s 74 acre estate in the Cugnoli area of Pescarese (one of the four zones of Abruzzo) since 2011. Yet she is already mentioned among the top producers of the region, consistently being awarded the coveted “Tre Bicchieri” (Three Glasses) by Gambero Rosso, the world’s leading authority on Italian wine. Indeed, Not only was her 2015 Pecorino given this honor, it was also deemed Gambero Rosso’s best value of all Italian wines for the current annual edition.
You can read a bit more detail on Azienda Agricola Tiberio from when we featured, and quickly sold out of, Cristiana’s wines last year. While Cristiana Tiberio is rapidly approaching cult status, for now the prices remain reasonable given the quality and clarity of her wines.
All bottle prices are based on the purchase of six or more bottles.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (2016)
Don’t call it a rosé. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is an official denomination and appellation to cover the cherry-red (Cerasuolo roughly translated means cherry-like), brightly flavored wines of Abruzzo made from the free-run juice of the Montepulciano grape with a short maceration prior to fermentation apart from the grape skins. Cristiana’s Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is rich and fleshy, with aromatics of flowers and orange peel, ripe raspberry flavors, lip-smacking acidity, noticeable structure, and a lengthy finish. While light in color, it’s a big enough wine to handle Abruzzo’s traditional grilled lamb (Arrosticini Abruzzesi) yet light enough for porch sipping. And we’ve tested it for both.
Pecorino (2015) white
Despite its name, there is no direct link between the Pecorino grape and Pecorino cheese. According to local legend, Pecorino gets its name from the sheep (pecora) who would snack on the grapes in the vineyards. The variety was thought to be extinct until it was found growing wild just north of Abruzzo in Marche and began a revival in the 1980s. Tiberio’s seven acres of Pecorino vines are planted on 20 foot deep limestone soils over clay and compacted sand and are some of the oldest in the region. The vines are naturally low yielding with a high total acidity so the wine shows a thrilling combination of rich texture and energy, green grass, flowers, salt, stone, and sunshine.
“Fonte Canale” (Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2015) white
The foremost wine of the Tiberio offerings from a six acre plot of Trebbiano vines with an average age of 60 years. Tiberio’s Trebbiano Abruzzese vines are especially noteworthy as they are not just amongst the oldest in Abruzzo but because true Trebbiano Abruzzese is rare. Much of Abruzzo’s vineyards are actually planted to Bombino Bianco, Mostosa, and Trebbiano Toscano which were until very recently routinely confused with Trebbiano Abruzzese. While the four share similar features, they are distinct varieties. Trebbiano Abruzzese is the most noble of the four, producing wines that while delicate and light bodied have greater depth and complexity. Many have likened “Fonte Canale” to a Grand Cru Chablis with its stony citrus characteristics. While the comparison is flattering, Cristiana would rather you think of it as a great Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This wine should develop in a proper cellar for a decade or more.
Raventós i Blanc “de Nit” (cru Conca del Riu Anoia 2014)
Special 6-pack price: $162 ($27/bottle)
Perhaps the most respected sparkling wine producer in all of Spain, Raventós i Blanc is a family operation led by Manuel Raventós and his son Pepe Raventós. Much like the best producers in Champagne, the pair throw heart and soul into creating world-class sparkling wines that express the distinct qualities of the exceptional microclimate and soils of their small Penedès subzone of Conca del Riu Anoia. Indeed, they believe so much in the excellence of this “cru” that they were one of the first of the renowned producers to leave the Cava appellation for not being restrictive enough in terms of quality and geography. They are currently seeking appellation status for Conca del Riu Anoia so as to convey its viticultural traditions and the strength of its terroir.
Biodynamically farmed and rivaling many a grower Champagne in quality terms, “de Nit” is a blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada with the addition of a small amount of red Monastrell for complexity and to give the wine its pale pink color. Aged for at least 18 months on the lees before release this is a wine of balance, with subtle minerality. Creamy, with aromatics of flowers, orchard fruits, and almonds, we suggest drinking this sparkling wine from a white wine glass to experience everything it has to offer.