Tasting Wines with Cristiana Tiberio at Pepino’s Spaghetti House

Cristiana Tiberio
Cristiana Tiberio

I was fortunate to be invited to taste the wines made by Cristiana Tiberio at a lunch seminar held at Pepino’s Spaghetti House on Commercial Drive. From the winery, “Agricola Tiberio is a family-owned estate, specializing in wines made from authentic Abruzzo native grape varieties. The story of Agricola Tiberio began in 2000 when Riccardo Tiberio purchased the eight-hectare plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines he had fallen in love with, along with another 31 hectares of land. Guided by decades of varieties matched to the different soil characteristics of the vineyard. Montepulciano Abruzzese, Trebbiano Abruzzese and Aglianico were planted along with Pecorino and Moscato di Castiglione clones from ancient vines in the area. In 2008, Riccardo handed over the reins of the winery to his children, daughter Cristiana and son Antonio. The role of viticulturalist went to Antonio while Cristiana handled the winemaking. In 2011, Cristiana took over all the winemaking duties and is now solely responsible for the wines made at the estate…”

Cristiana noted that their winery is located between two mountains in the Cugnoli area of Abruzzo, offering them a cooler climate and also a longer growing season.  Their family has 30 ha of indigenous grapes in their vineyard.  Of interest, they do not plant clones, rather they propagate from their existing vines, using massal selection.  Why?  Cristiana noted that their vines had been growing for many years before they purchased the abandoned vineyard and the vines had learned how to adapt to changes in the vineyard over time.  New clones brought in would not have that built-in adaptability.

Christiana and Antonio organically farm without fertilizer or irrigation in the vineyard.  When they purchased the abandoned vineyard, it took them five years of pruning and cleaning the vineyard before grapes were produced.  Their first vintage was in 2004.  They were excited about the vineyard because the Trebbiano vines were of the Trebbiano Abruzzese variety which was now rare as it was largely replaced by Trebbiano Toscano and Bombino Bianco, which now make up most Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.  Within the vineyard beside the Montepulciano Abruzzese and Trebbiano Abruzzese grapes,  they discovered Malvasia and Pecorino vines.  There were only seven Pecorino vines, which they then propagated in the vineyard. 

Cristiana investigated the vineyard soil and determined that there were two types of soil: sandy subsoil with vines more than 90 years old and the rest of the vineyard with marl and clay and 75-year-old vines.  She also discovered that the indigenous yeasts in these two areas were also different.  Christina uses these yeasts to ferment her wines, as purchased yeasts, like purchased cloned vines, have not grown and adapted to the environment of the vineyard.

Cristiana and family tried different fermentation vessels for their grapes and she finally settled upon stainless steel as she says it keeps the brilliance of the terroir.  Christina asserts that she doesn’t want to use oak barrels to cover up unripeness in the grapes; ripe grapes should not need oak treatment.  When I tasted these wines, in particular the red wines, there was indeed no need for oak aging.  The wines were excellent, showing ripe fruit flavours, had great acidity, and still had sufficient tannins coming from the grape skins.  

My Wine Tasting Notes

Tiberio Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2023 and Tiberio Fonte Canale Trebbiano d'Abruzzo 2019 wines
Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2023 and Tiberio Fonte Canale Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2019 wines

Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2023 –  A light honey and stone fruit nose.  Medium lemon colour.  Dry, lean with a light mouthfeel.  Fresh fruit flavours; tart citrus and stone fruit, plus minerality.  Medium-pls acidity.  Long length with some lees and the very end. 4.5 stars5 stars

Tiberio Fonte Canale Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2019 – The grapes for this wine come from sandy soil and ungrafted vines. The phylloxera pest does not like sandy soil so Cristiana can keep these vines ungrafted.  Some say that ungrafted vines give you the true expression of a grape’s aromas and flavours.  This wine has a deeper colour lemon & gold colour.  Light ripe stone fruit and dried stone fruit aromas.  Medium-plus body with a thicker mouthfeel.  Smooth, but has higher acidity.  Quite tart flavours of dried stone fruits, dried apples and a touch of salty minerality.  It has a dry tannic finish plus a touch of pepperiness.  This wine has a long aging potential. 4.5 stars

Tiberio Pecorino 2023 – Cristiana noted that the Pecorino grape is indigenous to mountain areas so the aromas and flavours that come from these grapes are best expressed in these areas.  Many Pecorino vines are grown in non-mountainous warmer regions so the grapes show tropical flavours, which is not a true characteristic of the grape.  So when you buy a bottle of Pecorino wine from Italy, check the region and then note the flavours of the wine.  This wine has a deeper lemon & gold colour.  Lighter aromas of dried stone fruits and a touch of mint or rosemary.  Tears on the wine glass. Dry, medium-plus body with a lean mouthfeel.  This wine has a rich texture and fresh acidity.  Dried stone fruit flavour along with some pepperiness and minerality. 4.5 stars

Tiberio Pecorino 2017 – A deeper amber colour!  Tears on the wine glass.  Medium-intensity aromas of dried stone fruits.  Medium body, silky smooth with lower acidity.  Still has tart, dried stone fruit flavours.  Medium length with drying tannins. 4.5 stars

Tiberio Pecorino 2014 – A medium-intensity golden lemon colour.  Medium-intensity flint and stone fruit aromas.  Medium-plus body, with a round and smooth mouthfeel.  Flint, nettles and light stone fruit flavours.  Medium length.  An elegant wine.  As the wine has time in the glass, it gets a lighter mouthfeel and you can add citrus pith on the palate. 4.5 stars

Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo – A quasi rosé wine made from the Montepulciano grape.  In this region, the Montepulciano traditionally has a hard time to fully ripen.  So traditionally this wine was fermented with its skins.  As the skins do not ripen to a dark colour you get this lighter-coloured rose wine, although it is fermented as a proper red wine.  When you pour a Cerasuolo wine it will be on the darker side of rose colour.  This wine has a medium-intensity clear red cherry colour.  Lighter aromas of red cherries and cranberries.  Reminds me a bit of Lambrusco aromas.  Dry, medium body with a thicker mouthfeel.  Medium-intensity drying tannins.  Tart cranberries, some candied red cherries and pepperiness on the palate.  Medium acidity that leaves some pickle on your tongue.  Medium-length. 4 stars4.5 stars

Tiberio Colle Vota Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2018 and Tiberio Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2022 wines
Tiberio Colle Vota Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 and Tiberio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2022 wines

Tiberio Colle Vota Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2018 – This wine has a deep garnet colour.  Medium-minus intensity aromas of dark fruit and milk chocolate.  It is dry, with a smooth, thicker mouthfeel.  Dark fruit and sweet dark fruit flavours plus some pepperiness.  Medium acidity and fine tannins.  With air you get some mushrooms on the palate.  A long length.  Good structure.  A quality wine. 4.5 stars5 stars

Tiberio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2022 – Opaque ruby colour from core to rim. Medium-intensity ripe sweet black cherries and plums on the nose.  A round, thicker mouthfeel.  Ripe sweet black fruit flavours along with some pepperiness and nutmeg spice.  Medium-plus tannins and medium acidity.  Quality. 4.5 stars

Tiberio Archivio Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017 – This is the first vintage of this wine.  It has 30% oak fermentation and aging with the rest in stainless steel.  Why?  Christiana determined that there was a difference in the grape biotypes growing in the 56-year-old vineyard where these grapes are grown.  The grapes needed more oxygen in the fermentation process, and through experimentation, this combination of steel and oak brought out the brilliance of these grapes.  This wine has an opaque ruby garnet colour.  Light aromas of floral, ripe red and black fruit plus candied cherries.  Smooth with sweet cherries, Old World oak, mineral and a touch of capsicum flavours on the palate.  Medium acidity.  Firmer tannic finish but not harsh. 4.5 stars5 stars

Wine and Food Pairing at Pepino’s Spaghetti House

The dishes that Chef made at Pepino’s were delicious and paired very well with the Tiberio wines.  The dishes we enjoyed for lunch:

  • Caprese salad, hot house tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, basil, aged balsamic, Volpi olive oil
  • Mezzi mafaldine, zucchini & anchovy ragú, saffron, parmigiano reggiano
  • Roasted B.C. lamb rack, mint salsa verde, fennel pollen, sauteéd swiss chard, pine nuts, garlic oil, sherry vinegar
Caprese salad, mezzi mafaldine pasta, and roasted BC lamb rack at Pepino's Spaghetti House
Caprese salad, Mezzi mafaldine pasta, and roasted BC lamb rack at Pepino’s Spaghetti House
The dishes were masterfully made.  The Caprese salad was very fresh, the Mezzi mafaldine pasta was cooked al dente and I loved the anchovy flavour in the pasta, and the BC lamb rack cut into chops were so tender.  I had the white wines with the salad and pasta.  I tried the Ceresuolo with the pasta as well as with the lamb.  The reds of course, I had with the lamb.  All dishes and wines were very complementary.  This was a dream tasting of food and wine.
Thank you to Cristiana for making these wines and speaking to us about them, to Pepino’s Spaghetti House for going Top Chef on these dishes, and to World Wine Synergy for inviting me to participate in this educational lunch seminar.

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

A subset of these wines are available at BC Liquor stores, Liberty Wine Merchants, and Everything Wine stores
Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.

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