Emidio Pepe @ Abruzzo

There are those experiences in life you’ll never forget and our visit to Emidio Pepe’s winery was one those experiences. It was our first time there and we were warned about the timing given it was harvest. In most cases I wouldn’t dare to visit any winery during harvest but this time I took my chances.

When we arrived to Pescara a place I hadn’t been in twenty-five years and the weather was perfect. Getting wheels there was simple, yet everything in the south has a small twist to it.

A drive of one hour and some minutes we arrived to a small village in the middle of the countryside. It was vineyard country and you could tell, yet it wasn’t what you see in Tuscany, I would say it is more quaint.

The winery is where the family resides and we were greeted by Emidio’s granddaughter who was in the middle of piegare the pressing and this time there were only feet. After getting acquainted we got on our boots and began to press. I quickly realized that technology and wine are synonymous, however here it is all about mother nature and nothing more.

The wine is made in concrete vats so no wood touches this wine and it is all about minerality and fruit. No doubt the bio journey is something to see and once it impresses you, it stays forever.

Luckily we had a chance to stay overnight and try the local cuisine and drink some local wines, together as a family it was one of those journeys you always wish would have lasted longer.

The next day we started to taste and that was a very good experience for us to try a broad range of wines produced by Emidio and those made by his daughter. The whites are among my favorites and many people will tell you Valentini’s wines are better, a competitor yet not necessarily in the eyes of this winery.

These wines do not touch wood, and the racking is something described by Emidio’s daughter: she said her dad describes racking, a process whereby you filter the wine and it is called soutirage in French. Now this is considered normal for most wine makers and they move the wine from barrel to barrel best without any pumps. This process is said to soften the wine’s tannins and helps clarify the wine and enhances aromatics. But Emidio says racking is like taking off your cloths, the first racking it is your tie, the second is your shirt and the third is your trousers. Obviously he isn’t practising any racking and it is obvious why. Bottom-line it changes the true nature of the wines and is interfering with the potential and age ability and character.

The reds are funky, deep and earthy with a purity you can find only here. It is true for those burgundy lovers, this wine doesn’t have the finesse and elegance. I guess a good comparision would be a Bugatti and a Ferrari, as they are both unique both have their own styles and qualities. For Ferrari lovers it’s Ferrari and for Bugatti, it is Bugatti. The idea of wine styles is a matter of education and from my standpoint, I do not compare wines unless they are from the same region and of the ame grape variety.

The Pepe family has handed down from father to son for four generations and the grapes of the Torano hills are gorgeous and vibrant. Over the past 20 years his two daughters, Daniela and Sofia and today his granddaughter Chiara working with their vines and in the cellars producing some wonderful wines.

Uniquely all their bottles are hand decanted before being put onto the market, as they are carefully controlled to eliminate the natural sediments that occur at the bottom of the bottle. The filtration is avoided but with decantation they say; it’s the wine that decides what it doesn’t need anymore, maintaining their personality and balance to live long and improve over time.

Emidio and his family are truly inspirational and I wouldn’t say they are ruined by modern-day technology and just the opposite. Their business is about the preservation of tradition and respect, something we find more and more difficult to find now a days.