The Abruzzo region of Italy located to the east of Rome has everything going for it. There are beautiful national parks, a long coastline on the Adriatic, the rugged snowcapped Apennine Mountains, and little medieval towns perched precariously on hill tops. Abruzzo is situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso and Majella massif. It is one of the most unspoiled regions of Italy with three national parks and more than ten national and regional natural reserves. Abruzzo geographically is more central than southern Italy, but due to its connection with the old Kingdom of the Two Sicilies , it is considered part of the South.
I have visited Abruzzo a number of times and have always enjoyed the wine and food from that region. In fact some of my favorite wines are produced there.
It was with pleasure that I accepted an invitation to attend a tasting of the wines of Abruzzo from
The Charming Estates of Europe, a special project that links the flavors of wine from Italy and France and of fresh fruit from Greece and introduce them to the United States and Canada. The event was called The Charming Taste of Europe.
The organizer and speaker of the event was Susannah Gold and it was held at IL Gattopardo one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Susannah is a true wine professional and it is always a pleasure to attend one of her events. She went into great detail on the region of Abruzzo and the wines.
Most vineyards are in hilly areas of which 75% are in the province of Chieti. The traditional vine training method is the Tendone system also known as Pergola Abruzzese. The three most important wine designations are: Montepulciano di Abruzzo (red), Cerasuolo (rose), and Trebbiano D’Abruzzo (white). Abruzzo is the number five wine producing region in Italy
The Montepulciano grape produces Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is the most planted grape in Abruzzo and is grown on about 17,000 hectares. It represents 80% of the total DOC wine produced in Abruzzo. The Montepulciano grape has been in Abruzzo since the mid 17th Century.
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a Rose’ made from the Montepulciano grape. It is made from the free run juice and/or juice with very little skin contact and it can be light pink to dark red.
The Trebbiano grape produces Trebbiano d’Abruzzo white wine. It is second in area covering over 5,000 hectares. This grape is planted all over Italy but it finds Is best expression in Abruzzo.
Of the local varieties, Pecorino, a white grape, is the most popular. Pecorino is an ancient grape variety which was “rediscovered” in the early 1980’s. The name in Italian is “little sheep” because the sheep liked to eat the grapes off the vines. The others are Passerina, Cococciola and Montonico, all white grapes.
Pecorino Superiore 2020 Abruzzo DOC Poderi Antonio Costantini made from 100% Pecorino. The exposure is south/south east and the soil is clay. The training system is spalliera (vertical trellis trained with replacement cane pruning) and there is a manual selection of the grape bunches at full maturity. Grapes are soft pressed and then the juice is left to rest for a number of hours at a cold temperature. When the temperature is raised to 16/18C alcoholic fermentation takes place. The wine remains in stainless steel for a time and then is stabilized before bottling. This is a very pleasant wine with floral notes, hints of citrus fruit, apple, anise and field grasses.
Spaghetti alla Chitarra con Ragu di Maiale — We had homemade square spaghetti in a rich pork ragu, a local specialty.
Trebbiano D’Abruzzo 2019 Riserva “Marina Cretic” made from 100% Trebbiano Tenuta Agricole Masciarelli The training system is the Abruzzo Pergola. Harvest takes place the second week of October. Fermentation is in wood for 15/30 days. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. The wine has hints of ripe tropical fruit, caramel, honey and vanilla.
Cerasuolo Abruzzo DOC 2020 Valori (BIO) made from 100% Montepulciano The vineyards are at 300 meters and the training system is simple guyot, spurred cordon. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place between October 10th and 15th. The juice is in contact with the skins for 24 hours. Racking and soft pressing takes place. Cold fermentation and aging is in stainless steel. This is a rose’ light pink in color with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of almonds.
Patate Maritate — Potatoes with cheese, sausage and herbs.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2019 Francesco Cirelli (BIO) made from 100% Montepulciano The soil is clay and limestone and the training system is guyot. Harvest is at the end of September and the beginning of October. Harvest is manual. The grapes are destemmed and gently crushed and there is a 12 day maceration, spontaneous fermentation in amphora with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 12 months in amphora. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry and a touch of strawberry.
Brodetto alla Vastese — Our next course was a variety of seafood in a flavorful sauce.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva DOC 2017 “Ruberò” Cantina Frentana made from 100% Montepulciano. The vineyards are in the municipality of Rocca San Giovanni, situated on hills overlooking the Costa del Trabocchi with a south/southeastern exposure. The soil is medium textured and calcareous. Harvest is manual the second week in October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes with maceration and fermentation with the skins for 10/15 days in small stainless steel fermenters at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in French tonneau oak barrels for for about 14 months, then more aging in stainless steel and then in the bottle for a few months. The wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, violets with a note of spice and leather.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva 2015 “Casauria” Podere Castorani made from 100% Montepulciano. The training system is the traditional overhead “pergola” trellis system of the Abruzzo region. The soil is deep clay with many underground rocks. Harvest is by hand the beginning of November with grape selection. Fermentation is in concrete tanks with manual pump over and delestages and extended maceration. Malolactic fermentation is completed during skin maceration. The wines ages on the lees in oak barrels and then for 6 months in concrete tanks. Finally the wine remains in bottle for 15 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, cranberries, licorice, a touch of spice and a note of tobacco.
In a future blog, I will report on the sweet wines of Bordeaux which were served at the end of the meal with dessert.