When we talk about some of the most well known producers in Abruzzo (Valentini and Emidio PePe) - we are pretty much speaking about coastal vineyards. These terroirs change drastically and rather quickly moving into Monte Tino, reaching 6,000 + feet above sea level. This is where Benedetta and Marco drew the name from for Montentino. The vineyards here are very unique and most of them ancient, an intriguing opportunity given how the climate is changing in Abruzzo. When the idea came to start their own label, one thing was for sure - it would be in the mountains.
Bendetta went to school originally for medicine and quickly knew she wanted to pursue something closer to nature. Later gaining her masters in Oenology and Viticulture. Benedetta knew she wanted to spend time in the vineyards; she started working at a winery in Tuscany which was rather conventional. This experience is what pushed her towards her viticultural practices today - essentially doing the exact opposite of what she was taught there. She quickly moved to a smaller biodynamic winery where she felt that her interpretation of winemaking fit right in. New Zealand’s Villa Maria was her next stop, a rather large winery focused on sustainability. She then moved on to a boutique winery in Oregon.
Though appreciative of the experiences, she felt the urge to return back to Italy to work with Arianna at Occhipinti. Her father passing brought her home to Abruzzo, where she continued to pursue working alongside the region’s best. Benedetta joined Chiara at Emidio Pepe, which is her current full time job. Her father was an inspiration for her - he was one of the first sommeliers in Abruzzo. Bendetta’s mother also took a liking to the world of wine, and pursued becoming a sommelier when Benedetta returned home. Contrary to what we said in the beginning, it seems she does come from a wine-focused family.
Marco has a different background; his experience is mostly in brewing beer and is currently the brewer at Birra del Borgo. His passion for wine and viticulture drew him to work various vintages at his friends' wineries. He has extensively traveled in pursuit of experiencing wine culture, which has played a large role in developing his palate. These things combined built his passion for viticulture and ultimately his decision to get involved with winemaking. He has brought many things to the winery, including heightening the functionality of the cellar.
Viticulture and Vinification
The winery is at about 850m above sea level. 1.5ha of vineyards spread among 5 different plots consisting of Montepulcuiano, Trebbiano and a small amount of Malvasia. 2021 was the first year for full biodynamic treatments as they wanted to ease into it and get to know the vineyards all together. All the vineyards consist of native plants and are rented from very old generational families in the area with most of the vines being planted in the 70s. There is an abundance of life, most of which is natural to the area and some of which she is encouraging the growth and cultivation of in the vineyards. Apple, Cherry. Fig, Almond, and Plum trees all naturally grow throughout; everything blooms on its own, supporting the natural cycle in the vineyard and biodiversity. They planted green manure by hand, increasing the biodiversity. The only machines that are used in the vineyard work just the top 20cm of soil. An Arieggiatore is used for working the soil, as it gently allows air into the ground without any compaction. Most of the work is done on deeper in the soil, close to the roots, by the natural nutrients in the soil created by the various species of living things in the vineyard. This gently allows air into the soil without any compaction. They believe in respecting the nature of the soil and plant, and trying to make decisions based on that. There is as little pruning as possible, consisting of very small cuts and a maximum of two buds left on the cordon; this allows them lower yields and high quality grapes. The pruning is always done on decrescent moon, in respect of the vascular flow of each plant, usually starting in February.
For every wine, sulfur is only added in small amounts onto the grapes and before bottling. Temperature is not controlled during transfer or fermentation. The natural temperatures of the mountain allow for natural cooling. They respect the phases of the moon, even in the cellar with a strong focus on transfer, racking, and bottling. The wines are not fined or filtered. 2022 will be the first release in the US!