Binomio: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

I love both Montepulciano Rosso and Cerasuolo style wines. I’ve said many times that both the variety and the style (and this goes for the Cerasuolo style’s Sicilian cousin, too) remind me of the beaming sunshine of southern Italy. Both the beauty of the places and the juiciness of the wines can only but make you smile.

Moreover, usually even inexpensive Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (and much of it is) makes for a decent drink. However, these Binomio wines leave me confused. They are neither inexpensive nor seductive. This despite the fact the wine is a product of two undeniably rich competencies in Italian wine: La Valentina from Abruzzo, who also makes Montepulciano, and Inama from the Veneto.

Binomio 2013 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore 14.5%
This is a wine I wanted to love for its rich pink color and my fondness for Cerasuolo. However, it is a hard sell from start to finish. The nose is reserved, only hinting at some potentially interesting minerally notes. Moreover, there is little fruit on the palate. In fact, the wine tastes like I imagine cardboard (and the wine is definitely not corked) and dust bunnies would. There’s a whisper of watermelon and strawberries, but there are almost no other flavors in this high alcohol, full body wine. What happened?
Drink: through mid-2016

Binomio 2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 14.5%
This wine’s aromas are as mysterious as its midnight color as they refuse to unfold. Very firm upon opening, five hours later, it remains stubbornly closed. The palate shows some cool nuances of graphite, mineral, iron layered on top of fleshy, ripe black currants. This is a serious Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in intension, but it’s hard to see what the wine will become, especially with its only moderate – not long – finish, even if it is a Riserva.
Drink: 2015-17

After these surprises, I searched around to learn more about the property. I discovered that Binomio is very proud of its plant material. It is an old clone of Montepulciano called "Africa-Binomio" for the short, small-berried bunches it produces that resemble the shape of African. The winery’s owners believe the clone has Greek or Balkan origins “due to its complex morphological characteristics, its vigour, and so on,” but according to Wine Grapes, the variety comes from Abruzzo, possibly from Torre de’ Passeri, which is just west and across the Maiella Mountains from this property. So while a question may remain about this variety’s provenanace, so does mine above. I wish I knew….