Driving through Italy Vinnie and I are privileged to see some iconic examples of the automotive designers’ art on our travels. From the miniscule original Fiat 500 to the mighty Ferrari, you can come across them all. But if you want to witness a collection of some of the greatest classic cars there really is no better way than to see the mille miglia. The original endurance race started in 1927 and covered a thousand miles – hence the name – from Brescia to Rome and back, all on public roads. In 1954 two brothers, Francesco and Vicenzo De Angelis Corvi, entered the race driving a car called a Giaur. Made by a dedicated enthusiast, Berardo Taraschi, in his small factory in the equally small town of Teramo in the north of Abruzzo, these beautiful machines are very rare, being built only between 1949 and 1958.
In 1955 the race was won by Englishman, Stirling Moss, who averaged an astounding 98 miles per hour. It was run 24 times but was abandoned after fatal crashes in the 1957 event. Today, it has been reborn as the mille miglia storico and is conducted in a far more sedate manner with entries restricted to pre-1958 machines.
Meeting Vicenzo’s son, Corrado, in his vineyard not far from the town where his father’s magnificent car was built was an amazing experience for me not only because of my love for classic cars but also because Corrado epitomised the deep love Italians have for their land. Corrado returned to his roots in 2002 when he founded the vineyard to fulfil a deep-seated desire to follow in his father’s footsteps and produce wine. Walking through the vines, he told us how important it was to him to produce wines that accurately reflected the land from which they come with the minimum of interference. He showed us the fava beans, rape and ceci that he grows as soil cover around the vines that help to maintain the soil quality and some of his seventy-year-old vines. Needless to say, all his wines are certified organic and from nine hectares of vines he produces a modest 30,000 bottles of wine per year, but what wine it is.
I was particularly interested in the Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, a very local wine with an interesting history that was awarded its own DOC status in 2010. It originated in the mountains where the Montepulciano grapes had little time to reach maturity and so the resulting wine was light in colour and fresh. This is a big contrast to the normally deep ruby colour that this grape is known for. The changing climate has meant that to reproduce this wine requires some thought and care and to achieve the desired result Corrado harvests the grapes early. Choosing the right moment is crucial. He then leaves the must on the skins for three to four hours before fermenting in steel. The wine is then matured for three to four months in cement before being bottled around June. Reading this you might imagine that the result is a rosé wine but in fact it has a very singular pale cherry colour. The cherry theme is continued in the light and delicate perfume and on the palate there are plums with low tannins and plenty of the salinity that comes from the soil. This would make a wonderful aperitivo on a hot summer’s day or a fine accompaniment to the more delicate flavours of rabbit or chicken. Corrado feels that this wine needs three or four years to reach its best and who are we to argue?
Corrado also makes a red wine called Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG. He calls his version Fonte Raviliano and I tasted his 2018. Made from 100% Montepulciano, it is fermented in steel using no added yeasts before being matured for at least two years in cement tanks. Finally, it is bottled unfiltered. It has the characteristic deep ruby colour of the Montepulciano grape with a bouquet of cherries and raspberries with a hint of cinnamon. In the mouth it is rich and deep with soft tannins, a big structure and a long finish. It will go well with mature cheeses or just by itself as a vino di meditazione.
To complete the tasting I tried his Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Superiore 2019. This is a white wine with a beautiful rich gold colour. On the nose there are delicate flavours of apricots and oranges and the citrus theme continues on the palate with the subtle flavours of Amalfi lemons and almonds with the salinity that comes from the soil. This is a wine that will obviously go well with white fish but also with roast chicken.
On the back wall of the small room that serves both as workshop and tasting room I noticed a copy of an old ecclesiastical notice issued in 1856 when a member of the de Angelis family, Filippo, was a cardinal. Corrado’s roots are indeed deep into this land and his wines reflect this symbiotic relationship. He nurtures the land and in return the land gives him the very best that it has to offer.