De Fermo, Abruzzo

We are absolutely delighted to announce that we are now exclusive agents for De Fermo, pure, expressive wines from the wild Abruzzo hills. Francesco Valentini, who compares them favourably with his own, praises these beautiful bottlings; we were overjoyed to discover them earlier this year.
Stefano Papetti Ceroni, proprietor of De Fermo, is not from a farming family. He was a wealthy lawyer in Bologna living a jet-setting, urban life, before discovering his wife Nicoletta De Fermo’s family farm in Loreto Aprutino and falling for it so hard, he decided to move there permanently. He told us “As soon as I saw the place I had the same feeling as when I first saw my wife – un coup de foudre. My life changed”.
He was already a connoisseur of wine.  As a child he was fascinated with the descriptions of wine in his mother’s cookery magazines and he spent all of his pocket money on bottles of wine, which he would open just to smell. As soon as he could, at the age of 18, he started sommelier training – alongside learning law – spending his weekends travelling to Piedmont and Chianti to meet winemakers.
The De Fermo farm - situated equidistant between the Adriatic coast and the glacial Majella mountain range, 20km from each - had been in Nicoletta’s family for generations, growing vines, olives, legumes and grain, however it had ceased to be the main source of income and was being managed by a team of labourers. When Stefano visited the place for the first time in 2007, he felt that it was somewhere special and asked Francesco Valentini to come and look at the vineyards. Valentini took one look and said, “These are the best vineyards in Loreto Aprutino”. There have been vines planted there for over 1,000 years; the vines today were planted between 1926 and 2000.
For two years, Stefano worked as a viticulturalist, converting the farm to biodynamics. He met with resistance from his workforce initially; those who disagreed with his methods left, and he gradually built a team dedicated to caring for the land. The farm’s underground winery was restored in 2009, retaining the old concrete tanks and botti, and it is now operated as it would have been 100 years ago – everything is done by hand. 2010 was the first vintage. In the first year, 4k bottles were produced; now they bottle 40k, and with nearly 17ha of vineyards at 270-320 meters of altitude on deep calcareous soils they could make 100k bottles of wine. But Stefano chooses to work only with the grapes from the very best plots; the rest are sold to local artisan winemakers, for example Cirelli.
At De Fermo, biodynamic and natural wine making are practised, but Stefano says that natural wine is not “crush the grapes and pray; you have to know every single defect in a bunch of grapes and select, you have to do analysis. The human is important in every part of the process. You have to respect, pay attention, you have to find the balance. If the grapes have good defences they don’t need intervention. But you have to work a lot in the vineyard. You need to respect the vintage too”
Le Cince is named after a family of birds (Cinciallegra) that are a symbol of happiness. The wine is dedicated to the women in Stefano's family.
Le Cince is a 100% Montepulciano Cerasuolo rosè that ferments in big oak barrels and stays in barrel for 7 to 8 months.

Don Carlino was the nickname of Stefano's mother-in-law's uncle. He was a lawyer and politician by trade but his passion was viticulture and French wine. In the 1930s, Carlo travelled to France to buy barrels and plant material. He returned to Loreto and planted Chardonnay, which he bottled until 1955. This wine is named after him to honour his energy and passion for the family farm. Don Carlino is 100% Pecorino that ferments in tonneaux and stays in the same tonneaux for 8 to 9 months.
When Stefano first arrived in Loreto the vineyard planted to Chardonnay puzzled him. As far as he knew there was no tradition of Chardonnay in the area. After research, he learned of Don Carlino's travels to France in the 1930s and the subsequent planting. The De Fermo's Chardonnay vineyard is probably the oldest Chardonnay planting in Italy on a calcareous terroir.
The link between the vineyard and France doesn't stop with Don Carlino. Stefano found documents from the 9th century in the university library regarding the transfer of the vineyard from a French family to the Catholic church. It was passed down from generation to generation via an old Lombardian donation system used in the middle ages to donate properties rather than selling them. This system was called Launegild.
As this was the first wine Stefano produced, he named it “Prologo.”
Prologo is 100% Montepulciano that ferments in concrete and stays in big oak barrels for 18 months.

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