Size & Type
About Pecorino: Pecorino is an autochthonous grape variety coming from south of the Marche region and north of Abruzzo. For the Pepe’s, the Pecorino grape has been a new challenge as they are faced with a new grape variety and trying to elevate it to the test of the long aging, as they do with the Trebbiano and the Montepulciano. The vineyard is 1.5 hectares and was planted in 2007. The 2010 vintage was the first release of the wine. A wine that expresses itself in a complete different way than the Trebbiano, the Pecorino seems to be immediate and flavorful with an important structure and a strong acidity.
Winemaking Notes: This white is vinified at the same exact way of the Trebbiano, crushed by feet and spontaneous fermentation in glass-lined concrete vats. After a few months in cement, the wine is bottled. The Pecorino is cellared in bottle for 2-3 years before release. In intention is to keep it for some time in the cellar to test the aging potential.
Out of stock
We have access to some incredibly rare mature whites and reds. Stored at the winery, each year a selection of back vintages is checked, decanted bottle by bottle re-corked and sent around the world!
We have offered wines back to 1983, with access back to the 70’s! Call us on 1300 811 066 if you are interested in the older stocks.
These wines are incredibly drinkable in their youth , with great potential to age.
Emidio rates his 2010 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as one of the Top 50 years he has made during his 50 year tenure.
Emidio’s 2001 is stunning now! Check out the Video I shot with Chiara talking about this wine.
His whites made from Trebbiano and Pecorino are superb. Textural masterpieces with great harmony, incredible length and depth.
“Bucking every trend and modern convention, the wines of Emidio Pepe represent one of the most singular expressions in winemaking today.”
“Every great wine region needs its resident eccentric genius. The Abruzzo has two, one of whom is Emidio Pepe. Emidio Pepe’s wines are like no others anywhere in Italy, perhaps in the world.”
Emidio Pepe is a singular producer creating amazingly complex age worthy reds and whites in a region of mass produced, overly engineered versions of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Though the family has been producing wines here since the end of the 19th Century, the winemaking has remained unchanged philosophically since Emidio Pepe took over the estate in 1964. Since 1997, the business and wine production has been in the hands of the fourth generation of the Pepe family with sisters, Daniela and Sofia. And, more recently, the dynamic Chiara De Iulis Pepe has joined the estate as the fifth generation!
Emidio: Founder, winemaker, grandfather
Sofia: Winemaker, daughter
Chiara: Business director, granddaughter
Emidio Pepe has a very long and rich history. What inspired you to first begin bottling your grandfather’s successful bulk company?
Emidio: The world of agriculture was a fight, especially when you give such value to the proper artisanal farming. At that time you had to create a market, and that’s what I did. My grandfather and father were making some wine for the family, and I learned the techniques from them. I strongly believedin the great potential of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and in myself, and I knew it could compete with the world’s greatest wines. I started working at the age of 14, with both my grandfather and father and working for other peoples’ land. By the age of 30, I decided to focus on the only thing I really knew how to do: make wine. I essentially started from scratch and with incredible enthusiasm began what would become my greatest challenge: producing the best Montepulciano and Trebbiano that nature could give me.
What is the basic philosophy of the Emidio Pepe wines?
Chiara: Grandfather is a true perfectionist, and he always knew that making the wine in a natural and artisanal way was the only way to respect nature’s perfection. He wanted to make refined and world-class wines and that always entailed his complete dedication and his strong determination.
Your vineyards occupy a very special location, perfectly nestled between the Adriactic sea and the Apennin mountains. What are the main influences that this exceptional geographic position imparts on your wines?
Emidio: The influence of the sea mitigates the climate and brings great minerality. The Gran Sasso guarantees us good temperatures between night and day, but also protect us from storms coming from west. This combination creates a microclimate that allows the vines and the grapes to have gradual development and ripening with unique characteristics. It always snows in wintertime, and with the excursions between night and they can reach 15°C. Summers are very warm but we get constant sea breezes from the Adriatic sea, bringing sapidity to our wine.
Tell us about your “foot crush” and the harvest season.
Chiara: Harvest season is a really great time! Grandfather always refused the use of machines, so we still do everything entirely by hand. We all go and pick the grapes early in the morning, then start the foot crushing in the late morning: four or five people stomp on the grapes in
a big wooden tank with a rack at its bottom. As we stomp, the grapes gently break, and the juice flows into a basket outside of the crushing tank. This process allows a constant stimulation of skin with the juice, releasing flavors we otherwise would have lost. For the red grapes, after the picking, it’s time for destemming: we pass the grapes on a grill by hand. That’s key to making elegant Montepulciano, not letting the stem break and collecting only the elegant tannins of the skin.
This collection comes from your family’s cellar with perfect provenance and storage, and the wines are hand decanted. Can you tell us about your philosophy behind hand decanting each bottle prior to shipment?
Sofia: Decantation is done to remove the sediments that occur with time but also to check every single bottle. It’s a process we have been doing since the beginning. Since the wines are never filtered, and Emidio believes that filtration takes the life and power away from the
wine, this was a way of letting the wine be free to decide what it didn’t need anymore, spontaneously. The wine ages in bottles and produces sediment with the elements it doesn’t need anymore. Right before we sell the bottles, we take every single one and pour it into a new one, leaving the deposit in the old one and topping off the new bottle with a second bottle of the same vintage. The cork has the year of the decantation while the label has the year of the harvest. We use two bottles and two corks for each bottle that we sell at the end. It is a process that leaves the wine energetic and with its integrity.
The Trebbiano is foot trodden in wooden tubs in order to avoid the contact between the iron presses and the acids of the fruit. The resulting white wines are slightly golden hued, well balanced and complex, with hints of nuts, hay, and yellow fruits.
The Montepulciano bares little relation to most other wines of this appellation. These wines are big and bold, filled with intense flavors of dried black cherries, licorice and wild herbs.
The winemaking regime at Pepe follows an uber-natural and artisinal path as well. Grapes are grown biodynamically, hand-harvested, hand-destemmed, naturally fermented and aged 18-24 months in glass-lined tanks. The wines are bottled unfined and unfiltered, without added SO2, and aged in their cellar, in bottle, for continued development. Before release, the wines are decanted by hand into new bottles, and then labeled. An extensive stock of older vintages is kept at the cellar.
It’s been 50 years since Emidio Pepe, one of Italy’s best wine estates, has been bottling its own wines (the estate was actually founded in 1899), and a new generation of talented and passionate youngsters here is ready to take on increasingly more responsibility. The wines are minimally handled: grapes biodynamically farmed; only native yeasts are used; there’s no temperature control in the cellar; and cement, not toasty new oak, is the principal winemaking medium. The wines need plenty of aeration to free them of strongly reductive aromas, so decanting a few hours ahead is an absolute necessity. Ian D’Agata, Vinous
The Montepulciano is fermented for about 10-12 days and subsequently aged for 24 months in glass-lined cement, which Pepe prefers over oak. “I think glass is the best medium for aging wines. It is no coincidence that extended bottle-aging is what allows wines to develop their fullest complexity,” adds Emidio Pepe. Both wines are fermented without the aid of selected yeasts or temperature control. The wines are bottled with no SO2 and laid down to rest for several years in the cellar which holds extensive stocks of virtually all past vintages.
As they age in bottle the wines undergo malolactic fermentation naturally. Before being released the bottles are opened and decanted one by one into new bottles after which they are re-corked, labeled and shipped. There is no fining, filtration or SO2 added during the second bottling. Pepe’s fanaticism extends to storage and when I saw him in New York recently he complained that temperature controlled rooms common in the city’s top wine shops were too cold for his wines which he views as living creatures.
Like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo, Montepulciano benefits from the kind of extended growing season that balanced weather provides. Specifically with regards to Pepe’s wines, the fresher vintages give wines of rich color, aromatic complexity, vibrant fruit and notable structure that allow the wines to age effortlessly for decades. In warmer vintages the wines often show less liveliness in color, riper fruit and a rustic, gamey character which I find less appealing. Around age ten or so the aging curve seems to flatten and the wines begin to approach maturity. In general I find Pepe’s wines from the cooler vintages to offer more balance as well as elegance although the warmer vintages have also proven to age well, if slightly less gracefully. These are fascinating, quirky wines that represent a singular approach to winemaking. Antonio Galloni, Vinous
The Pepe vineyards are located in the northern province of Teramo, with siliceous soil rich in lime and iron.
The 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Vecchie Vigne is smoky, meaty and packed full of dark fruit intensity. Notes of black currant, wild brush herbs, white pepper and tobacco can be found from start to finish. It’s soft upon entry and almost fragile in feel, with a tactile mix of nervous acidity and grippy young tannins that keep the expression achingly youthful. There are depths of tart woodland berries and savory spices fighting to surface from beneath the 2012’s hulking structure, yet only time will tell if they’ll ever succeed, as today, this is all elbows and knees. Drink 2025-2036
Made from biodynamic estate-grown grapes, this is a powerful, intense offering from an Abruzzo icon. A heady mix of Thai basil, anise seed and purple flowers meld within a dense wild berry core. The palate is broad and gripping in youthful tannins, yet plush with a thick-skinned dark berry tone, and speckled notes of herbs and game that linger on the extended finish. Drink 2022–2030. Polaner Selection. Cellar Selection.
Where in the world does the magic happen?
Emidio Pepe, Contrada Chiesi, Torano Nuovo, Province of Teramo, Italy