Abruzzo (Teramo), Italy
Lamberto Vannuci took the reins of Centorame from his father in 2002, who began the winery in 1987. Located near the hilly town of Atri, close to the Adriatic coast, in the region of Abruzzo, Centorame began with a mere three hectares. Each year Lamberto plants a little more and today there are more than 10 hectares under vine. The majority of his parcels are on steep hillside vineyards. Lamberto eschews chemicals and tends his multiple parcels using only natural, and organic treatments. Centorame is committed to only using clean energy.
A purist, Lamberto’s vineyards contain only indigenous varietals, which include Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Passerina and Pecorino. Situated in the sub region of Teramo, Centormae is in the heart of Abruzzo’s only designated DOCG for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo; the Grand Cru of Abuzzo. Adjacent to the vineyards is a small field of old olive trees, from which he makes some beautiful olive oil. In terms of winemaking, Lamberto believes in “using slow, good machinery that respects the grape.” All of the fruit is estate-grown and hand harvested in small baskets, from vineyards quite close to the cellar. In warm regions like Abruzzo this is crucial to maintaining fruit free from spoilage and oxidation. Each parcel of is vinified separately; then selections are made at the end of the process to create a final blend for each wine.
Stylistically, Lamberto’s wines are clean, elegant and concentrated, with exquisite varietal expression. The majority of the production goes into the San Michele line, made from vineyards between 15 and 23 years old. These are all about terroir; hand harvested at optimal ripeness, then fermented and aged in stainless steel to showcase the vibrancy of fruit and minerality. Lamberto, like others in a growing group of talented young winemakers, feels that steel is an excellent way to maintain freshness and balance in the wines, while enabling them to pair with a variety of foods. By no means entry-level, the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are stunning examples of Lamberto’s light touch and the results of perfectly tended vineyards. Lamberto also makes a small selection of barrel-aged wines under the Castellum Vetus label. These are gorgeously concentrated Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from vines directly adjacent to the winery, grown on the traditional pergola system. They are dense, rich and complex, with tons of varietal character, enveloped in tastefully used oak (as of 2013 Lamberto decided to move away from barrique and will use only minimal Tonneaux and 15 hectolitre French casks, which he believes will better preserve the natural flavours of the wines as they mature). Serious and long-lived, these are gorgeous wines, full of depth, yet by no means lacking in elegance. Beyond these two ‘classic’ lines, Lamberto also enjoys experimenting and produces a serious traditional method sparkling wine from Pecorino and a Montepucliano D’Abruzzo with no added sulphites. Both are delicious and showcase both Lamberto’s skills and sense of adventure.