Masciarelli, the family behind Abruzzo's fabled wine

Learn about Masciarelli’s history and wine production. What makes the Masciarelli wines so memorable and filled with local terroir and reflections.

By Andrea Grignaffini
Mon, Mar 29


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Mankind reflected through the vine and throughout life, both of which this man left far too early, with still so much to accomplish.  We are speaking about Gianni Masciarelli, one of the Abruzzi men who ushered in the wines of this region, making them known globally to wine lovers.

With this in mind, confining Masciarelli to just one single Italian wine region would be limiting, even though Masciarelli was in fact a driving force of the wines within this geographical area.  Masciarelli was indeed an absolute visionary bursting with ideas and love for his lands.  In order to get to the roots of his visions, Gianni discovered instead that he would need to literally move away from his actual family roots (his grandfather also was a winemaker).  Gianni had a desire to experiment, invent, and innovate within the world of vineyard planting.  His desire ultimately was to perfect and optimize the growth of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Trebbiano vines, an improvement that would in turn help him improve himself.

Masciarelli’s first battle victory dates back to 1984, with the first Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  This vintage was one of the first to be created with grapes hailing from the Ripa Teatina district. The result of that grape use, at the time, lent the wines a subtle, delicate, borderline-timid wine that recalled French wines.  This was so very different from the vigorous, memorable wines we know today.

This innovative approach stemmed from neophyte winemaker Gianni’s immense respect for the wines of France’s Burgundy.  Despite the significant geographic distance there, these wines were a happy parallel to Gianni’s approach - they were the direct result of a local vigneron’s rigorous, bold, tenacious craftsmanshipGianni’s approach to wine-making was the clear result of a man who loved his wines and his lands.

This was undoubtably a difficult task, a constant uphill endeavour, filled with arduous roads and difficult decisions.  At times, Gianni was so beset with his work that he stopped distinguishing day from night.  He became so subsumed by work that he often was unable to drag himself away from work, mixing up rest and work times, and was often found sleeping directly in the cellar, resting his head on the barrels he so loved.



Just as Gianni was beginning to see the first fruits of his labors delivered, he died prematurely.  Marina Cvetic Masciarelli promptly took on her late husband’s life-work, and ably took control of the wine estate’s reigns.  The impressive results from her new leadership was a wine output not only much in line with her husband’s philosophies, but a solidification and concretization of his approach and beliefs.

The Masciarelli Wine Estate is managed today by Marina, with the assistance of her children Miriam Lee and Luigi.  All three family members are dedicated to following the path Gianni laid out for them, and each is guided with determination and rigor.  While they finesse and perfect the winery’s output, each one uses their unique relationship with the father or husband as inspiration to ensure their finest work and results.



Masciarelli began in 1981 to use Montepulciano and Trebbiano grapes in their wine production.  These two varieties were at that time considered quite low value varietals, whereas today, with the ever-increasing wine labels using these grape selections, the overall sentiment about Montepulciano and Trebbiamo grapes has shifted towards a high-end estimation.

Over time, the Masciarelli wine estate has grown exponentially.  Divided between the seaside and the mountains, all the different lands serve to wine makers in their quest to produce a variety of wine selections.  Today, we find 60 plots of classic vineyard divided between Chieti, Pescara, Teramo and L’Aquila, each with their own individual pedoclimatic and soil characteristics that result in the winery’s ability to produce a number of highly individualistic wines.



One of the Masciarelli winery’s most paradigmatic wines is the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Villa Gemma Riserva 2015.  Aged in new oak barriques for 18 months, this wine is surely one of finest of its type thanks to its deep, ruby-red color and welcoming aromas of red fruits, fragrant flowers, and distinguished notes of tobacco and flint.  When tasting this wine, we are struck by its breadth, ranging from a pleasant freshness and ending with a rich, persistent chocolately finish.   

Another great example is the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo San Martino Marina Cvetic Riserva 2018, with one year aging time in barrique.  This selection presents a lively, dynamic ruby red color taken directly by the colors of red fruits.  The wine’s bouquet is charmingly fruity and floral, with subtle hints of tobacco and graphite.  When drinking this Masciarelli selection, the wine’s freshness is balanced by a harmonious tannin structure and long, persistent finish.

Looking for a white wine selection?  Look no further than the Marina Cvetic Trebbiano D'Abruzzo Riserva.   This powerful white wine begins with a French barrique aging process, which consequently allows the wine to express its immense versatility.  A powerful wine selection, we’re also stricken by this vintage’s elegant character, which seemingly reflects the vine itself - this is the product of man’s desire to tame local vines and varietals without damaging their most intimate, innate facets.

Learning about new wineries and new regions a fascinating subject for you?  Mamablip’s got loads more for you to explore together with our on-ground wine journalists and experts.  We’d recommend continuing your Italian exploration with a foray into Montalcino, with Filippo Bartolotta, to explore this magical wine region.  Continue north up the Lake Garda area, with Lele Gobbi, to explore the coasts that make this a unique wine region.  Head to the Franciacorta wine region with Francesca Ciancio, for a look into Berlucchi, one of the ground-breakers of the sparkling wine movement in Italy.

That should get you started, but be sure to sign up below for delicious Italian recipes, wine news, and tips in the Mamablip newsletter. A quick sign-up and you'll get these details delivered right to your inbox once a week - could living like an Italiano be any easier?

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