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Cristiana Galasso’s brave, humble quest for a perfect Trebbiano

by Claudio Celio

Cristiana Galasso is one in a million, someone who truly puts wine first, who sets passion for what she does above all else. If you should ever pay her a visit, you could not remain indifferent to her genuine humility and radical choices – such as turning her country home into a winery, thereby limiting her personal living space. Her story in winemaking is recent, yet intense and difficult.

Her experience starts in 2001 with a small Müller vineyard; in 2002, she takes out a lease on her first Montepulciano vineyard. 2006 sees the first official bottling.
Cristiana does everything herself, in a challenge with herself and nature that has occasionally seen her succumb, like when when her choice of rigorously organic vineyard management led her to have insufficient crops for bottling. In other vintages, the grapes’ quality was not up to par for the pinnacle wines, so she was forced to downgrade part of production. Nonetheless, Cristiana never gave up and continued to tend the vineyards she manages in various areas of Abruzzo.

All of her wines are territorial and authentic: Fante, her Montepulciano, Lusignolo, her Cerasuolo (a light cherry-colored rosé that is truly delightful in certain vintages), and her white Trebbiano varietals. The wine I am writing of today is her pinnacle Trebbiano: D’Ugni. Exclusively made in the presence of superior vintages, when crops are of the highest quality, D’Ugni comes from a very special vineyard.

Located in Pratola Peligna (near Sulmona, in Abruzzo), it was planted by a local agronomist called Francesco Colella in the early 1970s. After a long professional experience in farming and agronomy, Colella decided to turn to grapegrowing; specifically, he chose to dedicate a vineyard to his Austrian wife, planting varieties typical of Austria and the Moselle region: Grüner Veltliner and Rheinriesling, whose vine rows grow next to the rows of Trebbiano vines to this day. The area – the so-called Peligna Valley – is rather cold, as it is surrounded by fairly high mountain ranges, and yields very intense wines.

Like this 2015 D’Ugni from pure Trebbiano. After skin maceration and a sojourn in stainless steel, it is bottled without filtering. The end result is a wine that draws its strength from its very imperfections: the bouquet initially shows organic nuances, then evolves toward lovely notes of barley sugar. On the palate, it is full-bodied, layered and rich, with a hint of sweetness that preludes an almost shocking, unexpected and pervasive tastiness, razor-sharp and extremely intense.

Versatile with a variety of fare, its complexity makes it an excellent meditation wine as well.