Here’s an Italian wine brand that’s been around since 1973, but which is little-known in the U.S.: Codice Citra, which is based in the Abruzzo region in southern-central Italy (just south of Umbria).
Before the wines, first some education:
Codice Citra wines are estate grown and bottled from a collection of family-owned vineyards in the lush and various microclimates of Abruzzo’s Chieti province. Passed down from generation to generation, these families maintain small vineyards, some just two acres, with passion and personal care. With vineyards that stretch north to south along the Adriatic coast and east to west from the sea to the hulking Majella Mountain, the range of climate and topography express the unique terroirs and microclimates of the region.
Since its founding in 1973, Codice Citra has focused on cultivating quality, indigenous grape varieties from the well-known Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo to the more esoteric Pecorino, Passerina, and Cococciola. The Codice Citra portfolio includes four ranges of wines, which together showcase the quality and potential of Abruzzo:
Citra – it’s most historical line already well known in the U.S., these wines offer clean varietal expressions that provide the perfect introduction to Abruzzo
Ferzo – a brand new introduction to the U.S., whose name refers to patches of fabric stitched together to create a sail, is a union of the finest viticultural ‘patches’ of southern Abruzzo, hand harvested from 20-year-old vines
Caroso – an elegant and powerful Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva, a singular expression of Chieti’s top hillside cru
Las Vitae – meaning ‘praise to life’ is a refined Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from 40-year-old hand harvested vines sourced from an exclusive high-altitude vineyard
Today we look at two wines from the Citra brand and two from Ferzo.
2017 Citra Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOP – Extremely dry and highly acidic, with a melon tone that recalls sake. Bold grapefruit notes and a touch of pineapple offer a fruity core, with a throat-clearing finish. Altogether, this is an uncomplex yet clean and fresh aperitif wine — and you can’t beat the price. B+ / $10
2017 Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP – Somewhat overblown, this montepulciano is a bit of a fruit bomb, its cherry and raspberry notes bursting on the palate. Things settle down with a little time, letting the wine show off some graphite and licorice notes, but even then the wine never really approaches elegance… though few would expect such from a 10 dollar wine. B / $10
2017 Ferzo Pecorino Terre di Chieti DOP – Pecorino is a widely-grown but poorly understood grape, and that’s a shame. This bottling is instantly engaging, a lively wine with lots of acidity, but also an ample body that features loads of fresh fruit — peaches, green apples, and apricots — and a twist of spice on the back end. It’s a beautiful companion to seafood particularly. A / $26
2016 Ferzo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP – This is another solid Ferzo wine, expertly made from the montepulciano grape. A surprisingly dark wine, this expression offers an incredibly rich fruit character, loaded with notes of plum, cherry, and currants, with hints of licorice candy and a light chocolate note on the back end. Dense but balanced, it’s another winner that offers a soulful, sultry body with just enough acid to temper all that fruit. Great stuff. A / $26