I first became acquainted with the wines of Fausto Albanesi by happenstance. I was purchasing wine from an online provider and I was short three bottles to fill out my order. As I browsed through their offerings his 2010 base bottling of Montepulciano D' Abruzzo caught my eye, so I filled out the order with them. I picked the wine because I was familiar with the soft, full of fruit, mildly tannic wines that could be made from that grape. In fact most Montepulciano D' Abruzzo can always be counted on for modest pricing and good quality. Upon trying Torre Dei Beati's Montepulciano, to say that I was surprised with the purity and clean expression the wine showed would be an understatement. We tried another bottle a few weeks later with a spicy ragout over pappardelle. This served to confirm that we had found a diamond in the rough, so we anted up and purchased another six pack for the wine stash.
Fast forward to this year's Gambero Rosso, San Francisco and Torre Dei Beati wines were on our list of wines to try. Fausto's wines have garnered many awards for excellence over the years and his "Cocciapazza" cru Montepulciano is a perennial three glass award winner at Gambero Rosso. Some producers for various reasons may not attend the tasting and they have the distributor representatives show the wines. Those producers that choose to make the trip have taken on a substantial financial commitment. Larger producers with a vast network of distribution in the United States always have a line of people two or three deep. Sometimes there can be a herd mentality at these tastings, so finding an under the radar winery that makes very fine wines, that others aren't knocking each other out to try can be rewarding. This strategy is as simple as looking where others don't and seeking out unfamiliar grape varieties. The line at Fausto's table was short and it worked to our advantage as we got to spend several minutes discussing his business. Fausto's warmth and generosity with his time was unforgettable.
Fausto and his family live in the hilly town of Loreto Aprutino, a small village of about 4,000 people near the Gran Sasso mountains, about 25 kilometers from the Adriatic coastline. He first met his wife Adrianna at Vinitaly, the Italian Wine Exposition held every spring in Verona. Their wine estate is near an area called Coccia Pazza, which in Italian Abruzzo dialect means crazyhead. His next door neighbors, the mythical estate of Eduardo Valentini , forge wines that command unbelievable sums of cash. Fortunately for us we don't have to spend eye popping amounts of money to experience Fausto's wines. Torre Dei Beati wines are imported into the states, but you won't find them at big box stores or chains; look to a small specialty wine retailer to acquire them. Cerasuolo, Trebbiano D' Abruzzo and Pecorino are wines that you may not be familiar with, but you need to try these wines to experience their purity and sense of place. These and his entry level Montepulciano all retail in the $15 to $20 dollar range and are well worth the search. His top tier Mazzamurello and Cocciapazza wines start at $35.
Join us as we find out more about Fausto and the wines of Torre Dei Beati, why he's chosen to farm organically from the outset and what makes his wines so special. Thanks for listening. Cheers!