In 2008, we started our winemaker dinner series with the aim to make discovering unique wineries fun as well as meaningful, and to provide enthusiasts with a common table to bond and connect.
Our first guest was Max D’Addario from Marina Palusci winery in Abruzzo. He was a very engaging guy, and loved talking about his craft. Soon, we realised that drinking with the winemaker, simply makes the wine better. Our guest was as fun as the wine, and the combination made the night.
The first thing to know about Max is that he produces world class olive oil and he’s forth generation artisans in their Pianella farm, in Northern Abruzzo. Marina Palusci has always been a family company and their olive oil production supplies many three-Michelin star restaurants, including Osteria Francescana in Modena.
Max’s talent as winemaker is nonetheless incredible. He started his own production of wine with the same seriousness and passion, and soon he scored positive responses from the industry critics.
All vineyards and olive groves are organically farmed and this system seems to have struck a successful balance between quality and authenticity. The operation consists of 4.5 hectares - 3 hectares of Pecorino, 1 hectare of Montepulciano and 0.5 hectares of Passerina - divided into 8 plots of land surrounded by olive trees, vegetables, and both arable and fallowed land.
To give you another poignant example: Max’s obsession with authenticity. The intervention in the vineyard and the cellar is extremely minimal, like using only copper and sulfur in the vineyard or refraining from additives in the cellar with vinification through spontaneous fermentation. In fact, two lines of Marina Palusci’s wines are simply labeled: “Senza Niente”, which literally means “nothing added”. Senza niente but with a precise identity: a wine that speaks of Abruzzo and inclined to taste more like the terroir and vintage than if human intervention and manipulation were used.
Max plants his Pecorino at 300 m asl on a clay soil. The elevation helps with limiting direct sun exposure on the grapes, and he harvests the pecorino before their other grapes to keep sugars low as well.
The result is a wine that punches above its weight class with elegance and balance. The nose starts off slightly funky, but with air it takes on mushed banana, apricot, orange plum, orange marmalade. The body is plush and soft, offering great acidity.