The most well-known of the Cantina Zaccagnini wines are immediately recognised by their signature rustic label tied off with a small twig of wood. Although the label looks rather hipster, the winery has been established since 1978 and is known for quality wine, not only in Italy but around the world.
With such a recognizable label it comes as no surprise that the team behind Cantina Zaccagnini have a deep affection for art. Dating back to 1984, the first collaboration with artists took place with the presentation of “Difesa della Natura” by the highly acclaimed master Joseph Beuys. Partnerships with artists have only continued to grow since then and possibly one of the most notable events supported by Zaccagnini is the annual hosting of Uvarte. Works from the prestigious artists taking part in this event become designs on a special line of wines reserved for collectors.
Cantina Zaccagnini Winery, Abruzzo
The winery itself embodies the connection between productivity, art and the environment with its wing-shaped roof and wine barrel storage mirroring the lines of an eye. The stained glass window in the tasting room is also in the form of an eye, symbolising the similar deliberation over detail that goes into making each bottle as goes into conceiving an artwork.
Located in a small town in Abruzzi, Zaccagnini owns 300 hectares of vineyards. Manicured into neat rows the vines are beautiful to behold providing nature’s perfect complement to the winery. Wine lovers can sign up for a guided cellar tour and tasting and this is just what we did.
Met by one of the group’s wine masters Federica, we had an engaging tour through the cellar and wander around the stunning property. Around every corner, we delighted in inspiring art pieces until our journey culminated with the greatest works of all, the wine. We drank through Cantina Zaccagnini’s range of wines from entry-level labels to some of their finest and soon discovered why Abruzzo is gaining much more acclaim in the world of wine.
Cantina Zaccagnini Range of Wines
Icon – “dal tralcetto” line (wine of the twig)
There are four wines in the “dal tralcetto” (from the trestle) range: Abruzzo Bianco DOC, Pinot Grigio IGT, Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo DOC and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. Easily recognized by its label of a twig tied around the neck of the bottle (they’re all hand-tied and come from the vineyard itself), it’s one of the most popular wines Cantina Zaccagnini produces. We try the first, made with Trebbiano di Abruzzo, the typical grape of the region, finding fruit and flowers on the nose and a nice crispness in the palate. Seafood from the Adriatic Sea or fresh cheeses such as mozzarella would make ideal companions.
Single Vineyards – Cantina Zaccagnini
While the “dal tralcetto” range is very easy drinking, the Single Vineyard series is a little finer and more complex. Ispira (inspiration) Passerina IGT is based on a native grape to Abruzzo, the Passerina. It’s very aromatic with fresh green notes in its bouquet. It has just enough complexity to maintain my interest but is easily consumed by the bottle (as was the case on a balcony with a sea view and gentle breeze a few nights later but that’s another story).
Chronicon Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC features the most well-known grape of the area. The widespread reputation of the grape as only meriting use as a table wine is worthy of correcting. Yes, there are lots of cooperatives that use the grape to make simple, entry-level wines but the wines coming out of single vineyards from reputable producers over the last 15 years are quite the opposite. With single vineyards and dedicated winemakers, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a different story altogether. The Chronicon from Cantina Zaccagnini has whispers of blueberries and cherries on the initial encounter and changes with air giving more notes of toast and oak, following through with fruit and tannins in the mouth. In general, barbecued meats match well with the wine but for something truly from the region try arrosticini, a local recipe of barbecued skewers of veal and lamb. Pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce could also be a delicious partner.
San Clemente – Zaccagnini Icons
San Clemente wines are icons of Zaccagnini coming in both a red and a white. San Clemente is the name of a church that is close to the vineyard so the label is dedicated to the saint protector of the area. The San Clemente Abruzzo Bianco DOC 2016 is based on 100% Trebbiano with fermentation in oak barrels. It’s another single vineyard and this time the bouquet is elegant with soft notes of fruit and oak. It has a nice long crisp finish and goes superbly with seafood: try it with the local fish stew made with tomatoes and peppers, Brodetto.
Spumante – Cantina Zaccagnini
Aster Rose is made from the same Montepulciano grapes typical to the region only using a different technique. It’s incredible how a small change in production can give an entirely separate outcome. The wine has come in contact with the skin for a brief 24 hours gifting the pretty pale shade of pink. It has had a double fermentation in the tank; the first to make the wine and the second naturally creates CO2, which gives the bubbles. It’s a great summer drink going deliciously with seafood, especially shrimp and also a simple white pizza with some olives and anchovies.
Named after a flower, the Clematis Passito Rosso Colline Pescaresi IGT shows how one grape can be made into diversely individual products. This time the grapes have been dried naturally on the vines and aged for three years in small barriques (caratelli), of only 50 litres each. Cherry is the overriding characteristic of the wine and it is simply luscious. It could easily be taken as dessert on its own or paired with Boconote, a sweet typical to Abruzzo resembling mince tarts with grape jam in the centre.
So drew a close to our tour and tasting and our thoughts came to reflect on the afternoon. Sipping wines from Cantina Zaccagnini is like drinking art in a glass; it will make you reconsider your preconceived perceptions about wine from Abruzzo.
Reasons to drink Cantina Zaccagnini: the entry-level “dal tralcetto” range provides a good quality for money introduction to the typical wines of the Abruzzo region; our favourite three wines from the tasting were the Ispira Passerina IGT, Chronicon Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC and the sweet Clematis Passito Rosso Colline Pescaresi IGT.
Via Pozzo 10,
65020 Musellaro PE, Italy
+39 085 888 0195
Cantina Zaccagnini Opening Hours
Monday to Friday from 9 am to 1 pm or 2:30 pm to 6 pm.
Bookings are essential.