In this blog post series discovering the most genuine wineries of Abruzzo, today we’ve the pleasure to introduce you to the Cataldi Madonna winery in Ofena, province of L’Aquila in Abruzzo. The winery, is a point of reference for viticulture not just in Abruzzo, is a winemaking reality that makes a significant contribution to the assertion of high quality viticulture in the Abruzzo Region.

History

Four generations ago, the wine company was founded by Baron Luigi Cataldi Madonna in 1920. However, it was his son Antonio who first bottled in 1975. Luigi, his nephew, took over in 1990 and continued the family goal of defining the products and promoting the region. Today, the winery consists of 29 hectares (all planted with native and traditional grapes such as Montepulciano, Pecorino, and Trebbiano), all located between 320 and 440 meters above sea level in the municipality of Ofena.

The philosophy

The company’s activity is characterized by the pursuit of harmony in all aspects of its operations, both externally and internally, supporting the relaunch of mountain Abruzzo viticulture. In the vineyards, the objective is to maintain the varietal expression of the grapes, primarily by foliar apparatus control. Whereas in the cellar, the goal is to maintain in the wine,  its natural characteristics.

 

The Terroir

The Cataldi Madonna winery is located in the center of a natural amphitheater known as “oven of Abruzzo” in the municipality of Ofena.

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

An amphitheater shaped plateau at the foot of ‘Calderone’ the southern most glacier of Europe.  Sun, wind and other climate conditions make the site, one-of-a-kind convergence of natural elements, resulting in substantial fluctuations in day and night temperatures, which are truly important to the quality of the grapes.

 

The Warrior of Capestrano

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

The Capestrano Warrior is a well known symbol for Abruzzesi, it represents the italic civilisation, living in this area since the 6th century before Christ. The statue was accidentally discovered in 1934 just a few meters away from one of the Cataldi’s vineyards, and since 1975 Antonio Cataldi decided to display the warrior on his wine labels.

 

Cataldi Madonna Wine List

All the wines are produced from native grapes varieties such as: Pecorino, Trebbiano & Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

  • Vigneti, the ‘cru’ and flagships of the winery
    • Tonì (dialect from Tonino) Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 100%, made by the most ancient vineyards. Aged in 25ht big barrels.

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

    • Piè delle Vigne, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC,  made by 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes,  with an technique of the area called ‘svacata’. This technique consists into vinifying 85% of the grapes as a white wine and 15% as a red wine (maceration with skins). After fermentation they are blended to give more structure and color to the wine. Luigi the inventor, call this wine a transsexual wine.

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

  • Selezioni, meaning ‘selections’, from the double selection they emply, firstly by choosing the best vineyards and secondly by hand-picking exclusively the best quality grapes.
    • Supergiulia, Pecorino IGT Terre Aquilane, produced using the best selection of grapes, this is a more delicious variation of the standard Giulia.

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

    • Cataldino, Rosato d’Abruzzo IGT Terre Aquilane. Not an usual Rosè from Abruzzo, it is an experiment made of 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo vinified in white, a complex technique that keeps pomace and must from coming into touch. The soft pressing extracts the precious juice without injuring the skins, and the spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel, triggered by indigenous yeasts, enhances the grape’s natural bouquet. A unexpected wine for us, extremely fresh and with a wide range of gourmet applications. Keep in mind its 14% alcohol content.

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

  • Fondamentali, the backbone of the winery:
    • Malandrino, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC – Aged in stainless steel and concrete. Give me this Montepulciano and I’l drink it every day!

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

    • Malandrino, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC
    • Malandrino, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

    • Giulia – Pecorino IGT Terre Aquilane

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

Pecorino

We do need a separate section on the Pecorino d’Abruzzo and the work the Cataldi family did on it.  After tasting a semi-unknown white grape cultivar in a garden store in 1990, Luigi is intrigued by the interesting acidity of the pecorino grape and chooses to put his efforts into growing it. He creates the first vintage of Pecorino in 1996, receiving many critics for using Pecorino (sounding like a small sheep) for naming the wine. Today might seem ridiculous, but at those times, wine wasn’t meant for normal people, but rather a product that could only be appreciated by nobles. As a result, you couldn’t give an ’embarrassing’ sheep-name but a fancy one.

If this grape is now one of the most popular white wines from Central Italy, it is largely thanks to the efforts of Luigi Cataldi Madonna, who was the first to rediscover it in the 1980s.

 

Wine Tastings at Cataldi

The hospitality is fantastic at Cataldi, we had the pleasure to stay with Pierluigi Menichetti (picture above). Sales Manager of the winery, he is perfectly embodied into the soul of the family and his knowledge & storytelling will make you fall in love. We had such a wonderful time.

Cataldi Madonna Winery Ofena - Genuine Wineries l'Aquila Experience BellaVita

In summer you can take advantage of the outside area, instead in winter there is a little room inside where you can taste their wines.

 

Cataldi Madonna Winery Map

This winery is 40m away from Santo Stefano di Sessanio, 17m from Navelli, 37m from Sulmona and 1h from L’Aquila.

Simply follow the google maps direction for, Località Madonna del Piano, Ofena AQ

Contacts

Official Website

Instagram Page

Phone: +39 0862 954252

 

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Marino Cardelli

Marino Cardelli

Food & Wine Enthusiast, 2nd level Qualified Wine Sommelier, Licensed Tour Leader of the Abruzzo Region, Official Abruzzo Smart Ambassador. I try to create environments & opportunities for Abruzzo's small business, young people and our traditions to thrive through sustainable tourism.

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