Abruzzo is located in the middle of Italy on the far side of the boot east of Rome. Vines are grown there on an area of over 33,000 hectares. By Italian standards, this is not even particularly large, as in Sicily, for example, there are over 100 thousand hectares of vines. To put that in perspective, the largest wine-growing area in Germany, Rheinhessen, has just under 27,000 hectares. Where Abruzzo comes out on top in the Italian comparison is the average yield per hectare. Today’s De Fermo winery plays only a tiny supporting role in these statistics. After a long tradition dating back to 1785 and an intermittent hiatus since the 1950s, the winery was only revived in 2008. The around 17 hectares of vines stand at about 300 meters above sea level and are farmed organically. The wines bottled with little sulfur without filtration or fining. The Chardonnay we are tasting this time is allowed to age in tonneau for one year after the spontaneous fermentation.
The first moments after opening, however, it is quite a stinker. Hardly any fruit, some nut and lots of reduction on the nose. On the tongue creamy, fresh but also still a bit featureless. There is some pit fruit on the nose, but it doesn’t really get fruity. You can also smell the wooden barrel. With air and slurping, it becomes more structured on the tongue and, interestingly, loses a large part of its creaminess. Instead, it clearly gains in tension. This is certainly also due to the fact that the acidity has developed much more bite in the meantime. We find it quite funny that much more fruit remains in the empty glass than you can smell directly in the wine. There it reminds then above all of lime.
Even after a night in the refrigerator, there is still plenty of reduction. Some nail polish remover, a slight woody note and the unripe walnut give each other a hand. The fruit is practically non-existent. On the tongue, it comes across as focused, juicy and with plenty of pull. It still benefits from air and time in the glass and is therefore almost guaranteed to improve with some time in the cellar too. Nevertheless, we like it a lot right now. It could be a bit longer though. But that is grumbling at a high level. I would not have suspected this kind of reductive Chardonnay in Italy. However, it seems to fit very well there.