Emidio Pepe’s wines at Erba Brusca

The report of an interesting dinner in Milan with the winery from Abruzzo and Alice Delcourt’s dishes

Sofia Pepe of the Emidio Pepe winery in Torano Nuo

Sofia Pepe of the Emidio Pepe winery in Torano Nuovo (Teramo, Abruzzo) with Danilo Ingannamorte, maître and sommelier at Erba Brusca in Milan. An evening dedicated to Montepulciano and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (photo by Francesca Bertani)

Last Friday at Erba Brusca, a really beautiful restaurant with vegetable garden located on Milan’s navigli, we participated in a tasting of Emidio Pepe’s wines. This famous winery from Abruzzo is located in Torano Nuovo, among the winding hills of Teramo: the 12 km separating it from the sea and the winds of Gran Sasso, bestow on these lands a fortunate micro-climate. The firm is founded on the efforts of 4 generations entirely dedicated to the art of wine making, from Emidio Pepe to his granddaughter Chiara, who participated in the event in Milan with Sofia Pepe, the founder’s daughter, who guided us during the tasting.

Already in 1899 the first Emidio Pepe in the family was known thanks to his wine and forty years later his son Giuseppe would sell cask wine. In 1964 another Emidio, grandson of the founder of the company started to bottle his “black gold”, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, thus starting the wine-adventure.

Lamb terrine with mizuna and persimmon, paired with a 2012 Trebbiano

Lamb terrine with mizuna and persimmon, paired with a 2012 Trebbiano

The team in the vineyard today includes Sofia, her sister Daniela and Chiara who supports Emidio also in the cellar and in the national and international markets. Sofia illustrates the dimension of their property, a total of 15 hectares, eight and a half of which dedicated to cultivating Montepulciano, the rest to Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. They don’t use chemical products nor herbicides in the vineyard, only sulphur, copper and biodynamic preparations. «We make grape juice», she proudly states, «we could drink a whole bottle without suffering from hangover the next morning. The harvest is strictly by hand, just like the destemming; as for the pressing, we still use the ancient method: our feet».

Wines are not matured in wood, only in cement tanks. In the 1,200 square metres of cellar the only materials used are cement and glass: this is because they do not affect the taste and flavour in any way and the wine «remains young», she says. Later, the wine undergoes a natural fermentation, without the help of added yeasts. Last November, the winery celebrated fifty years of business with a great vertical tasting and at one point Sofia chose an enlightening comparison: «Young wines are like children: you can speak with them for a second, no longer. Old wines, instead, are like the elderly: they have a story to tell you, they can appear fragile and delicate but at the same time they also have a unique complexity».

[[ ima3 ] Alice Delcourt’s dishes were up to the expectations: the Soup of celeriac with apples, saba and buffalo milk yogurt was paired with a good 2012 Trebbiano, just like the Lamb terrine with mizuna and persimmon. While this wine slightly overshadowed the first dish, the second one was able to enhance the rich flavour of the wisely cooked meat.

Together with the Risotto with liver and herbs, pears and caramelised onion we tasted a rather tannic 2010 Montepulciano. As a pairing with the last savoury dish, Braised venison leg with Montepulciano with roasted potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes, an excellent 2001 Montepulciano, 14°%vol., was served: perfect for this dish. Last but not least, the Polenta and honey cake with pollen and yogurt ice cream, granola and citrus fruit and rosemary compote, initially paired with a 2000 Montepulciano. This is when the surprise arrived: the family brought a small treasure for the tasting, a 1983 Montepulciano. It was worth all the other wines put together. A splendid closing for an excellent dinner.

Left to right, Sofia Pepe, wine importer Dan Lerne

Left to right, Sofia Pepe, wine importer Dan Lerner and Alice Declourt, French-American chef at Erba Brusca


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