If you have experience with Abruzzese vintners then you know that the name Farnese is associated with bargain wine. Do not be alarmed by the moniker of “bargain” because inexpensive wines these days rarely mean poorly made, but rather affordable and ready to drink.
In 1582 Princess Marguerite Farnese fell in love with the town of Ortona. Sandwiched between the Adriatic and the Maiella Massif, the Princess adored the landscape so much she did what any royal would have done: she purchased the entire town. Farnese commissioned a palazzo and lived there happily in her own slice of paradise, but thanks to her and her family’s cosmopolitan nature, Farnese wine became respected and was found on banquet tables of European high courts. Although the Farnese family has not owned the label for generations, their successors in pure gratitude have kept the name and adapted the old world traditions to modern day.
As a wine lover I found this 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to be more medium in body, but while sharing two bottles with my family over dinner some argued it approached the low-end of the full body scale. To the nose there is that mark of any good Abruzzo wine – ripe raspberries – and along to follow were definite hints of dark raisin and a distinct creaminess that prevents the fruit from seeming too sharp. To the palate the berry permeates almost throughout but as it fades there is the slightest hint of licorice before giving way to the unique infusion of French Oak. (Farnese wines are cured in French and American oak barrels.)
This particular wine seems to be made with meat in mind because it pairs extremely well with salamis, as well red meats. My family and I enjoyed the first bottle over some antipasti plus polpettini in a fresh tomato sauce with shavings of parmigiano and my brother’s favourite, arancini. As we continued onto the secondi piatti the Farnese transitioned nicely to compliment osso buco and veal chop alike.
While being a delightful wine for its stability, I will warn those of you with a honed palate that this Montepulciano will bore you if you are looking for sophistication. It is still a great bottle and a terrific buy, so if you are looking for a wine everyone would love for an event or are new to the wine world, this is a great place to start. With a price tag of roughly $8 — $10 (£6-£8) per bottle in stores ($30/£15 in a restaurant), the Farnese Montepulciano is an easy win and one of those labels that should always be on your wine rack.