Just a spoonful of Tiberio

Pecorino Vines

This particular account is a personal one. I first met Cristiana Tiberio back in 2016 but two years earlier there were a couple of opportunities to taste her wines in Ontario. Like many wine writers tasting and assessing her family’s wines eight years ago I too did not fully grasp the future and see Tiberio’s forest for the trees. Yet I always knew I was being spoken to. At the Collisioni Festival in July of 2017 I was wandering Barolo village when I bumped into Cristiana. We knew one another but not really and the chance encounter was the kind akin to happening upon an old friend. We were genuinely happy to see each other. Fast forward five years and Cristiana facilitates a visit to her home. This is personal because after experiencing the truth – in her elegance, humility, humanity and grace – I am forever better for the experience. Furthermore having now seen the vineyards and soaked in the place, the connection is forged for a lifetime.

Cristiana Tiberio

Related – Bucket list visit with Emidio Pepe

Historically speaking the story dates back nearly 25 years to a moment in time when Riccardo Tiberio unearthed a very old plot of trebbiano. Not the Toscano variety but rather the Abruzzese, rare and of an ilk carrying greater meaning, but most importantly potential. The windy spot at 350m is near the medieval village of Cugnoli and roughly 40 kms inland from Pescara by the sea. Original vines put in were montepulciano, new trebbiano (Abruzzese), aglianico pecorino and moscato (di Castiglione), all clones extracted from endemic and ancient vines. In 2008 Cristiana and her brother Antonio took control and 14 years later la passione nel tempo that is Tiberio is now a force of Abruzzo. No longer a case of being what critics like to call “a rising star” but now a leader and an estate to emulate for how to grow grapes and make exemplary besides profound wines in the region.

Healthy vines and lands at Tiberio

While the trebbiano material is the oldest and distinguished as the most local and ancient there can be little doubt that the future will most likely be in the hands of pecorino. That vineyard is 15 years of age and was planted with massal selections from what was determined and chosen as the best and the oldest pecorino vines growing throughout the Tiberio estate vineyards. A taste of the 2009 speaks volumes about the potential of not only quality and age-ability but more so the connection between this genetic material and this very particular place. Tiberio’s pecorino and their land are simply made for one another. 

Pergola vines

Though my visit with Cristiana Tiberio was short, sweet and the number of wines shared but a spoonful of her family’s two-plus decades of experience at Cugnoli, it was nevertheless one of the most important days spent in my four-plus decades of enjoying, learning about and writing on wine. It was about doing things the right way and for the right reasons. We can all learn from this approach. Non so come ringraziarti Cristiana. Ci vediamo presto.

Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOP 2021

Mainly limestone soil with sand and from an area rich in water. Tiberio dry farms broad shouldered vines because the roots can always find water below. Trebbiano comes off of five hectares including vines planted in 2012 not yet used in this production. The Tiberio example carries itself with grace and the feeling experienced at a level above. Like night versus day and touchstones fully realized in this elegant and textured trebbiano rising. Taste the juiciness and the energy, cherish it, mimic the eating of ripe picked grapes straight from the vine at a time when there is neither bitterness nor astringency. This is the harmony now, despite the sprint and chaos in seasons of climate change crisis. Trebbiano ’21 is seamless and satisfying. Drink 2022-2027.  Tasted June 2022

Godello and Tiberio

Tiberio Pecorino d’Abruzzo 2021, IGP Colline Pescaresi

Tiberio’s 30 hectare Pescara location is a windy place, ideal to avoid mildew and disease, at 380m with no severe problems by frost. Very close to the mountains so a true mountain climate but also Mediterranean, especially as witnessed by the results of the 2021 vintage. The vines are drawn from organic material found on the property. Started with five vines in 2000, propagated, kept healthy, further planted in 2000 and 2001. Almost one full hectare was created this way. No need to initiate the pecorino discussion by thinking along the lines of intensity because Cristiana Tiberio’s is too free form, openly sensory and one that expresses through full disclosure. Leaves off from trebbiano and accesses another level of grace. No vivid glare or drama but a playful, extended soliloquy, without intermission. Seamless, golden and mellifluous, aromatics transitioning to flavours with undetectable chord changes, palate organza of texture. A reminder that pecorino is a variety born of a mountain climate and not one always capable of fully ripening. This is about as good as that probability will offer but really there is no matter because eight or 8.5 out of ten is ideal. This Tiberio gets there and has the touch in a wine with a strong and pure identity. Drink 2022-2028.  Tasted June 2022

Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOP 2021

“Cerasuolo has character that is not Rosé,” insists Cristiana Tiberio and when a producer makes one of this kind of energy and crunchiness they can say whatever they like. Born in the mountains where montepulciano couldn’t fully ripen and in this style of wine there has to be bite. Which is exactly what Tiberio’s has, in fact it explains what that means. Free-run juice and one look followed by a taste will make you wholeheartedly believe in the proposition. This Cerasuolo retains the identity of the variety and the place, without compromise. These are a people in the mountains who were trying to make red wine and this was the result. And it was good. Tiberio’s is a memory of fruit, in a vintage, as it has to be. Drink 2022-2024.  Tasted June 2022

Tiberio Pecorino d’Abruzzo IGT 2009

How can it be possible to exist in a vacuum where 12-plus years do almost nothing to advance the timeline of a wine? Well, perhaps some maturity but all things being equal there is very little secondary character in Tiberio’s 2009 pecorino. Some honeyed notes and a toasty, white peppery edge but oven roast or smoke some meats and the match will interact in very beneficial ways. This organic fruit has persevered, remained subtle and in total control. The story unfolds like that of Cristiana Tiberio’s graceful life, as she is, not just what she does. Drink 2022-2025.  Tasted June 2022

Good to go!

godello

Pecorino Vines

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Coppo: Feet on Canelli ground since 1892

Luigi Coppo is grounded in tradition, family, heritage and by a contiguous connection through generational continuance. That much is clear. I’ve met with and tasted Coppo’s wines three times over the last three years; during Barolo’s Collisioni Festival, July 2017, at Relais San Maurizio in Santo Stefano Belbo, December 2018 and most recently at the family’s Canelli estate in December, 2019. Since 1892 Coppo has been nestled in the favourable company of fellow producers Gancia and Bosco, together forming a link between these three most historical wineries in Canelli. Coppo’s Barbera d’Asti and in particular their Pomorosso cru from Nizza Monferrato’s hills are intimately integral charges and while it may have long been established, the advancing Luigi Coppo led Sparkling wine program will push further than merely rivalling the best of Alta Langa. Lookout Franciacorta. Take heed Champagne. And though these estate masterpieces in constant progress will duly impress sommeliers and collectors worldwide, Luigi Coppo still pulls for the workhorses and insists that “Moscato d’Asti is definitely the heritage of our hills.” That amongst their 56 farmed hectares surely counts for something. This is the actuality and presence of Luigi Coppo in Piemonte: Determined, ambitious and yet always cognizant of his roots. All the Coppos in fact; Gianni, Paolo, Luigi, Roberto and Piero. Feet on Canelli ground since 1892.

Luigi Coppo

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Much has changed since Luigi’s great-grandfather Piero started the estate in 1892. Today production is 500,000 bottles annually. In another three-pronged producer connection Coppo can make Barolo here in Canelli, along with Scarpa and Bersano. And in 1977 it was Carlo Gancia who as the first in Italy to do so, returned from Champagne to employ moscato in traditional method bubbles. Luigi Coppo is also making use of the Canelli tufo azzuro soils, a mix of blue clay and limestone so ideal for growing grapes to turn them into many variations of sparkling wine. He too embraced the new Alta Langa appellation, beginning in 2010. A specific area was identified, chardonnay and pinot noir were planted and the 30 month lees aging methodology was put into place. Following the dreams of Grandfather Luigi who desired to produce a Bourgogne-style in Piemonte, chardonnay was planted 35 years ago. After nonno passed away in 1994 Luigi’s father Paolo decided to keep the dream alive. Monteriolo sees nine months on lees in barriques; big, buttery, modern and luscious.

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The Nizza Classico barbera come from several Monferrato villages while the Pomorosso cru, first made in 1998 sees new French oak for 14-18 months. Moscato d’Asti gets stelvin closures, the wines that age for five to six months are sealed under Diam and real corks for anything longer. The natural barrel cellar was finished in 1970, 42m below ground level. As for the heritage one, says Luigi, “Moscato loves altitude compared to barbera. It’s now time to talk about Moscato d’Asti as a serious wine because it’s very difficult to make. We don’t add sugar or carbonize and it is a vintage wine. These are the three natural and honest things about moscato.”

Related – Rock steady Bersano

What do Coppo’s wines do for us? How are they helpful and perhaps even life-affirming? The truth lies in Luigi Coppo’s humanity and dedication to the things that matter. Something has to save us from ourselves, especially in times such as these, from being inside our heads. Luigi’s wines are the sort to make our wisdom bearable, to rescue us, if nothing else from the ever-bearing fever of begotten biological and ecological destiny. These are the five wines tasted at Coppo.

Coppo 1892 Luigi Coppo Brut Metodo Classico 2016, Vino Spumante Di Qualita DOC, Piedmont, Italy ($40.00 – Estimate)

Traditional method varietal pinot noir in sparkling form, 24 months on its lees and no wood aging. Gainfully fresh and joyous, just a pinch of dosage and regaled, mainly by strawberry but also a sweetly savoury push. Crushable bubbles in the parlance of our times. Drink 2019-2021.  Tasted December 2019

Coppo 1892 Piero Coppo Riserva Del Fondatore 2007, Vino Spumante Di Qualita DOC, Piedmont, Italy ($220.00 – Estimate)

A 60-40 split of pinot noir and chardonnay that was at a near to previous time a varietal wine of the first but with 90 months on the lees and more complex notions conceived it was necessary to bring the latter into the mix. This was disgorged in July 2017. The tartufo bianco in this wine is simply uncanny. That and a toasty precision as if by a Japanese chef’s hand, a toasted piece of perfect white bread to the edges in 100 per cent equality by golden caramelization. Sandwich a piece of reverse seared Kobe rib-eye in between two buttered slices with a side of potato chips and creamy cole slaw and Coppo’s your uncle. Mimic with foie gras if you must. Up to you. Drink 2019-2026.  Tasted December 2019

Coppo 1892 Monteriolo 2017, DOC Piemonte, Piedmont, Italy ($92.00 – Estimate)

A father and an uncle’s chardonnay dedication to their father with a Bourgignons style and philosophy. This just released ’17 saw nine months on lees in French barriques. Toasty in a “Batard” Italianate way, nearly gingered and a low-yield meets high concentration and alcohol (though maxing out at 13.0 per cent) and purposefully ripe. The hot year took away some control and thus the warm biscuit and accentuating spice notes. A little caramelization and while the joy will be a year or so away it will be a shorter lasting period, albeit a highly anticipated and relishing one. Verdant finish with a scape of citrus zests. Drink 2020-2024.  Tasted December 2019

Coppo 1892 Barbera D’asti Nizza DOCG Pomorosso 2017, Piedmont, Italy ($74.95 – Estimate)

A blend of areas, Nizza Monferrato, Castelnuovo Calcea and Agliano Terme, first produced in 1984. “If you want to make Nizza all of your vineyards have to face south,“ explains Luigi Coppo. The exposures gather three levels of sunlight and with 15 days of fully extractive macerated practices the tannins are necessarily pulled to their limit. With varietal acidity set to a natural high there is a three-pronged effect that expresses three separate platitudes and layers for long-term effect. Add the warmth of ’17 and the degree of difficulty and margin for error is very stringent. Castelnuovo Calcea was the last to pick and still only at the end of the first week of September. There’s a phenolic-minor note from the vintage that’s ostensibly unavoidable in a composition like this and yet the richness and structure are non-compromised. Tough to follow the ideal 2016. Drink 2021-2028.  Tasted December 2019

Coppo 1892 Moscato d’Asti DOCG Moncalvina “Canelli” 2018, Piedmont, Italy ($23.20 – Estimate)

“Moscato loves altitude as compared to barbera,” tells Luigi Coppo, “and now is the time to think about Moscato d’Asti.” Luigi says it’s a serious wine because it’s difficult to make. No sugars are added or carbonization performed and it’s a vintage wine. These are the three tenets that matter most. From Canelli vineyards between 200-280m and the classicism of construct and effect is pure magic in proper and precise, sleight of hand ability. That’s what it needs to be, no more, no less. Naturally sweet, a pinch of salt and all the orchard fruit; apple, pear, lemon and orange. All together in balance and gift with tannin on a real dry finish. Drink 2019-2023.  Tasted December 2019

Good to go!

godello

Twitter: @mgodello

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