Story of an artisan. Francesco Paolo Valentini.

Artisan is the word that best describes Francesco Paolo Valentini and his profession. The wines of his estate are famous around the world, his grandfather Camillo and his father Edoardo were able to recognize and bottle the extraordinary quality of the vineyards of Loreto Aprutino (map) before others followed suit and for over thirty years he has continued with exactly this same passion.
In 1981 Francesco Paolo, who was just 20, flanked his father during his first grape harvest: that was the starting point of a knowledge that initially consisted of observations, followed by studies and then by decisions and interventions in order to obtain the best possible results. The 2007 crop of his Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the best proof of his skills: a wine that, due to the exceptional and almost unbearable heat of that summer, is fairly unlike the company’s style, but a witness of his extraordinary work, both in the vineyards and in the cellars. Having been awarded almost all available recognitions, the author of this exceptional wine prefers not to talk about it and seems almost bothered when it is brought up, a bit like Bob Dylan when he is asked on stage to sing ‘Blowing in the wind’ fifty years down the line.

A visit to L.A. (Loreto Aprutino - what did you think I meant?) in Via del Baio is always a fantastic experience because Francesco Paolo is a very generous and educated person, very curious and careful of what is going on and his conversation always refers to wine and oil without ever being boring.

Vineyards and olive groves are the main ingredients of his world, both with separate and well defined roles: the vineyards are work and the olive groves are passion and the tension between these two poles is never resolved, although I am pretty certain that if he were to pick one or the other to take on a desert island, he would take a bottle of olive oil. Olive trees are the plant of L.A. and the Dritta Loretana is the original variety of olive trees, which have been perfectly integrated to this environment for thousands of years, even before the also very traditional Trebbiano and Montepulciano were introduced. Its presence is so strong that our artisan says he can often tell it’s a good Trebbiano crop when the must has the same smell of the Dritta.

Despite having vineyards stretching over 70 hectares, all cultivated with the traditional Abruzzo pergola and Trebbiano and Montepulciano grapes, Valentini bottles are rare, because only the best grapes are picked during the harvest. Numbers and percentages are not sufficient to describe these wines, but the author does not hide the fact he prefers generous yields per hectare to control the level of sugar and not compromise the acidity, because climate change in recent years has modified the ripening of the grapes creating new and often unexpected problems for wine producers.

The most recent tastings, Trebbiano 2011 and cask wines of 2012, confirm the quality of the work and promise to offer interesting developments in the future. The cask wines of Valentini are a metropolitan legend, some enthusiasts even glorify their therapeutic properties, but they must be kept in a separate league from the bottled ones, because they might originate in the same cellars, but they are immediately destined to different outcomes. The preview of Trebbiano 2010 left a remarkable impression on me. It’s rare to taste Valentini wines before they are put on the market, so I will not comment: let me just say it will be one of the greatest Trebbiano Valentini of all times!
In the near future we should have the confirmation of the sale of the Montepulciano 2012 and this is excellent news, considering that the previous edition dates back to 2006.

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