Emidio Pepe: the Star of Abruzzo

Emidio Pepe: the Star of Abruzzo

Italy is a country with a wealth of different grape varieties, vineyards and wine styles. It is often the regions of Tuscany or Piemonte that take the limelight when it comes to famous Italian wines. But this time, Abruzzo is in the spotlight. In this region, you can find winemaker Emidio Pepe; a legend when it comes to matured and developed wines from Trebbiano and Montepulciano. In this blog, you can read everything about this unique winery from Abruzzo.

Meet Emidio Pepe

Emidio was born into a winemaking family. His father and grandfather had been producing wine under the name Casa Pepe since 1889. So, it goes without saying that Emidio spent a lot of time in the cellar and in the vineyards from an early age. After years of experience with his family, he decided to start his own business and produce his own wines in 1964. Right from the start, Emidio strongly believed in the ripening potential of Trebbiano and Montepulciano. Many people had to see it to believe it, and they didn’t have much faith in it. Through his dedication to these local grape varieties, he has proved everybody wrong.

Emidio has now taken a step back. His daughters Sofia and Daniela have taken over and they are responsible for the daily affairs these days. The vineyards and production are supervised by Sofie, while Daniela is responsible for the company's back office. When you come to visit, you could also run into granddaughters Chiara and Elisa. A real family business!

The Perfect Conditions

Torano Nuovo is Emidio Pepe’s home base. The village is only 16 kilometers from the coast and the vineyards too are just a stone's throw from the Adriatic Sea. This is how the sea breeze provides cooling. The alternation of sufficient heat and cooling is one of the factors that contributes to the right balance between the sugars and the acids in the grapes.

The total vineyard area covers 14 hectares with only typical Italian grape varieties. Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Montepulciano take the leading role, but a small amount of Pecorino is also planted. The vineyards are arranged with the age-old pergola system, and a few rows on the ground to get a natural balance. The foliage of the pergola protects the grapes on the ground and the rows give the soil room to breathe after it has rained a lot. Win-win, or rather wine-wine! The roots reach deep into the ground so they get sufficient nutrients and minerals from the soil. Even during dry periods, the roots manage to find water. From the very first harvest, natural working methods have been key. For example, chemicals have never been used to fight diseases and viruses. As we now know, Emidio has been working biodynamically all along, but this approach was not well-known at the time, and people were completely unaware of this concept.

Patience is a Virtue

With at least 50 harvests to his name, we can say that Emidio Pepe is a pioneer when it comes to aged Abruzzo wines. The harvest is manual and selective; only perfect grapes are harvested. The white grapes are then pressed by foot in large wooden tubs. This method ensures delicate handling of the grapes and gentle crushing of the bunches. This way, any unwanted aromas as a result of rough handling are warded off. The Montepulciano grapes are destemmed and even crushed by hand. Fermentation starts spontaneously and lasts on average 30 to 35 days. This is when the famous Emidio ripening process begins. No filtration takes place prior to maturation. The sediment is not removed until the vintage is released. When a bottle is more than ten years old, the wine is decanted. This is done one by one, by hand, and the wine is bottled in a new bottle. Moreover, the quality is checked as well at this point. This is how they guarantee a wine without any flaws. On the cork, you can find the year this was done.

Because Emidio Pepe believes in the aging potential of Trebbiano and Montepulciano, much of the production is stored on the estate. Only a small edition appears on the market right away. The stored bottles are not released until the family is satisfied that the vintage has reached its full potential. These vintages are then perfectly ready to drink. Because a small part of the recent vintage is released right away, you can get a taste of these wines while they are still young. This makes it possible to compare two different vintages - one young and one developed - to see exactly what aging does to the wine.

The white wines that are stored are often released after about five years. The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is released after at least twenty years. Storing and preserving the bottles is quite a logistical feat when you consider that there are more than 350,000 bottles of up to twenty different vintages in the cellar!

Want to know more about the unique wines of Emidio Pepe? Take a look at our selection

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