An evening celebrating the release of 2016’s Vino Novello at Cantina Frentana, midway between Lanciano and Fossacesia.
As it turned out, our last festa of the year – and one of the very best. And last blog of the year too…
Great setting. Terrific organisation. Delicious food and wine. Good music. Good company.
All the ingredients of a perfect evening…
Not a lighthouse – but Cantina Frentana’s trademark tower. A local landmark.
Take a winery tour and after you’ve made your way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views stretching from the coast to the mountains of the Majella National Park.
At the bottom of the tower is a section of the winery, where grape juice is turned into wine – plus tasting areas and a wine shop…
These are some of the winery’s giant wine storage tanks. Made of steel, these were holding the Cantina Frentana’s entire 2016 production of red Vino Novello prior to bottling.
This wine’s not barrel-aged – but picked, crushed and bottled all within a tight 6-week period to ensure the end-product’s at its freshest and tastiest.
Compared to Abruzzo’s other wines, the production run of Vino Novello from all our local wineries isn’t that big.
None is exported (or even seen outside Abruzzo) – and by January, it’s pretty much all gone…
In common with all festa where wine is a feature, on arrival you buy a glass, which comes in a carry-pouch you hang round your neck. Here, the cost was €3 – a bit cheaper than normal. And this price also included five vouchers, which you exchanged for five glasses of wine.
At the end of the evening, take the glass and pouch home as a souvenir. After our ten years in Abruzzo, we seem to have acquired quite a few…
Here’s one of the wine vouchers !
On offer were fizzy white; two or three different varieties of still white; pink; and a couple of reds – including the 2016 Vino Novello.
Entirely your choice what you fancy drinking.
We started off with a glass of fizzy each…then moved onto the excellent 2016 Novello. (Which we liked so much, we ended up buying a case…)
In common with most other festa, plenty of tables were set out so you had somewhere to sit and enjoy your wine; have a bite to eat; and chat to friends. As the evening wore on, perhaps around 1000 people visited – about average for an evening like this.
Small local festa may attract only a few hundred people – some of the larger ones several thousand. But they all have one thing in common: all – without exception – are unfailingly good-humoured and easy-going. In our ten years of festa-going in Abruzzo, we’ve never experienced even the remotest hint of anything that’s caused us concern.
Aside from good wine, two other essential festa ingredients are good food and good music.
It has to be said the music can be variable, from pretty awful Europop; to big showbands that indulge the local passion for line-dancing (yes, really !); to some excellent rock and blues bands; and, best of all, groups that play the folk and dance music of Abruzzo.
This might not sound like a sure-fire hit, but played well (and it usually is) the music can be an absolute show-stopper – and it’ll give you perhaps the only chance you’ll have during your time here, to see traditional local dances like the Pizzica and Tarantella. (If you’re feeling extremely energetic, you might even join in…)
Here, we had four excellent young musicians playing traditional songs – and a lot of people dancing…
And what we had to eat…
Not actually a Hamburger…but a Lamburger…
Delicious, char-grilled burgers made of locally-reared lamb, with flakes of Abruzzo Pecorino cheese, tomato, rocket and rosemary oil.
Or you could have chosen one of three or four pasta dishes; slices of pizza; or a couple of traditional Abruzzo festa specialities – fried pizza and char-grilled cheese (which is way better than it sounds); and arrosticini – pencil-thin lamb kebabs.
Undisputed star of the show was the Fiat 500 BBQ. At the sides, plenty of room for the (literally) hundreds of arrosticini that were eaten during the evening, while the Lamburgers sizzle away under the hood !
A visit to a festa is an integral part of any Abruzzo holiday. They take place all year round, but peak in July and August – with another little peak when the new season’s wine, olive oil and chestnuts are released in the autumn.
Festa generally take place on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday (though some are also held during the week). If you’d like to take one in during your holiday here, we’ll do our best to steer you towards a good one !