“Have you ever been to Italy?” Stefano Illuminati, one of the owners Illuminati Wines in Abruzzo, was asking us a question.
Dean and I got teased after responding with the typical list of most toured Italian destinations. As we tasted Stefano’s family’s wines during his visit to Vintology Wine & Spirits, we joked that tourists’ rental cars must automatically be programmed to drive only to Venice, Rome and Tuscany. Where should we be heading, though? South, and specifically, Abruzzo.
Stefano’s family has been rooted in the region for many generations. He shared that Abruzzo is a stunning region, situated right on the Adriatic Coast, with national parks, nature reserves and numerous hilltop medieval towns. It’s food and wine culture rivals its natural beauty. Something to think about when you are sipping on their Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC “Riparosso”, one of our favorite bottles in the store.
(Now, let’s not confuse the grape variety, Montepulciano, which is common throughout central Italy with the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany where wines are predominantly made from Sangiovese.)
Stefano’s great grandfather started the Illuminati wine tradition in 1890. Nicola Illuminati founded a wine company eventually known as “Fattoria Nico’”, Nicola’s farm. Stefano’s father, Dino, took over in the 1950s and by the seventies Illuminati was bottling its own wine.
We tasted a great line-up from the Illuminati collection. A 100% Pecorino will eventually join the “Riparosso” we already carry. Dean and I sometimes both hone in on a bottle, and this Pecorino, an indigenous Italian white, hit the spot for us. It was rich in fruit and fragrance, with a soft texture…. picture a seafood salad and a view of the Adriatic coast.
We love Stefano’s wines and we’ll take his advice: next time in Italy, turn the steering wheel and go south!