Pescara, Abruzzo, Italy
A handful of fringe operators working in the established, passive wine regions of Italy are finally reaping the rewards of their faith in natural farming and willingness to take risks. Iole Rabasco is a perfect example.
She is a courageous second-generation grower who has over the last handful of vintages gained a loyal following that spreads to Paris, Los Angeles, and Melbourne with her decidedly rustic and charming wines from around her home of Pianella - central Abruzzo. Since revitalizing a family vineyard plot in 2008 by marrying an old-fashioned system of vine training with select biodynamic treatments, her output has blossomed into a repertoire that climbs from the humblest vini contadini to the mythical status possessed by this area's most respected producer.
The Rabasco property sits halfway between the rugged Gran Sasso mountain range and the cooling influence of the Adriatic. Her vineyards however enjoy a warming Southern or South-Western exposure, and meticulous management of the covering leaf allow clusters to maintain acidity and tension. Varieties here are the wildly productive Montepulciano and Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, that without the care Iole bestows to balance the yield of each crop might quickly drop to an average level of expression.
Iole's clever work in the cellar has developed intuitively. While the juice for all of her wines begins to ferment wild in fiberglass or cement tanks, preference for ageing vessel is tailored to conditions of the individual vineyard site. Stainless steel to finish for her juicy and uplifting Cancelli lineup. Glass demijohns, a relic of true cuntaden winemaking, for her emotional and shapeshifting Damigiana cuveés from San Desiderio, her noblest parcel. Finally, large old oak barrels round out the more high-toned and nervy wines from the perilously steep La Salita vineyard, which faces North and is the highest plot above sea level.
No additions, including s02, are used during the winemaking season. "Niente chimica" as the labels say, in the vineyard and cantina.
To us, the range of Rabasco is a clear argument for the deep-seated potential that Iole has begun to uncover for natural wine in Abruzzo.
- El Rancho
Cancelli Rosso 2016