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    Husband and wife outside winery


    I was on my way to Cantinarte – an epitome of a family run business in Abruzzo, central Italy. They are all immersed in this beautiful winery: her father checks the vines and the quality of the grapes every day and harvest is very much a family affair. They hand-pick and personally select the grapes for the very best quality in Cantinarte. We started buying from Francesca a few years ago and I am reminded why. Her respect and commitment to the land and itssustainability is unquestionable. This is farming at its best.

    Dylan with Francesca at her winery in Italy.

    Finding the Vines!

    Now sometimes it is just not what you expect. Oh yes, I knew I would have a wonderful warm welcome from Francesca and her husband. The tasting was already laid out for me and of course there was food afterwards – a simple and delicious soup of beans and vegetables typical for the area. Cheese and salami followed – the salami a particular speciality of the South of Abruzzo. But where were the vineyards?

    The table in Cantinarte, Abruzzo ready for the tasting.

    A Beautiful Landscape

    Having driven through the mountains to Navelli, the small village clinging to the hillside, I had not yet seen a single vine. Where do they make their white wine? All was revealed as we drove across a muddy field to see the two-hectare vineyard hidden behind the village. Strong protective fences have been erected to keep out the wild pigs and deer! Immaculately trained, at this high altitude they produce wonderful white wines from pecorino and pinot gris grapes.

    Worth the Trip

    The Reds that are so good come from lower down the valley around the hilltop Roman city of Chieti and are powerful expressions of those typical Montepulciano grapes. Don’t take my word for it, as soon as I returned, we put them in the pods for you to taste! They will be there for another week or so, or click here to see our present online selection.

    Cantinarte wines from Italy. One rose and two reds.

    Take a Break in Italy!

    You can also go and stay in this very beautiful area, Francesca not only produces her own organic wine, but also olive oil. You can also organise food activities!  I would highly recommend it with a visit to Cantinarte’s historic olive oil museum.

    Osian holding a bottle of red wine

    Dry January

    Let’s face it, I’m not going to join the Dry January army and give up drinking wine for a month. Not even a week actually! I recognise that for my physical and mental health, a moderate consumption is necessary. However, I would no more aim to practise this for just a month any more than I would eat fruit and veg for just one month of the year.

    Dry January or Less Wet Year?

    In a world that often advocates extreme resolutions, embracing a year-round approach to reducing wine intake offers a more sustainable and realistic perspective on healthier living. Rather than succumbing to the pressure of Dry January, the long-term benefits of moderation are more compelling. Cultivating mindful drinking habits throughout the year has a far better chance of success with me than deprivation. By consciously savouring and thinking about what I’m drinking I find it really does slow down my drinking naturally. I can hear howls of laughter from my friends as I write. Ok, I’m not saying I’m always successful but it’s definitely more likely to fit in to my lifestyle you rotten lot!

    Drink Well, Drink Less

    It follows that if I’m drinking less, I can, if I want to, spend more on that bottle. That’s my logic and I’m sticking to it. A more complex wine may have more flavour and depth and I find that trying to label those flavours and aromas changes my approach to drinking. We’d like you to join us having fun learning about producers and the wine they make all year around. So to kick off we’re doing ’Try-January’ with Osian’s choice of 2 wines you may not have sampled.

    Cantinarte, Ode Montepulciano DOC

    The grape is Montepulciano. It’s from south-east facing slopes in Chieti on silty clay soils, long maceration in stainless steel tanks to preserve freshness. No oak but still has body and is robust with good structure. A wine with dark berry fruit, big power and structure. Francesca is a biodynamic and organic producer of wine and olive oil. Have a look at her site.

    Madonnabruna, Pecorino

    This lovely Pecorino (it’s the name of the grape as well as a cheese) has aromas of acacia, jasmine, lemon blossom, yellow fruit and nuts. These are followed by flavours of apricot, peach, pear and lemon with a mineral edge.

    Make Wine Your Hobby

    These are available to try in the bar and you can buy them online with the code ‘TryJanuary’ for a postage discount of £5. So new year, new beginnings and there is so much to learn. Make wine your hobby!

    Try January Tasting Notes