Abruzzo is located in central-southern Italy between the Adriatic Sea and the massifs of Gran Sasso and Majella, which slopes gently towards a sub-Apennine hilly area near the Adriatic Sea. This divides Abruzzo in different areas: the mountains to the west, which makes up more than half of the entire territory, distinguished by a continental climate with cold winters, and the coastal area with its hilly side and milder Mediterranean climate and warmer summers.
From Ovid to Polybius, we find a lot of historic testimonies to the presence of winegrowing in Abruzzo. Until the Renaissance period it was concentrated mainly in the Peligna Valley, in the province of L’Aquila. The region’s viticulture experienced a phase of rapid transformation, especially during the Unification in the 19th century.
But it was only in the last 40-50 years that Abruzzo viticulture became specialized and today the modern trend is to highlight the characteristics and quality of the grapes.
This is achieved by producers in all manner of ways, including the harvest dates in relation to the final product they want to release, more gentle extraction, use of older and larger oak vessels or other vessels such as concrete tanks or amphorae, and shorter maturation periods and the gradual abandonment of the most difficult areas, to redistribute in the better suited ones along the hilly coastal strip.
Beneficial influences of the climate
The territory of Abruzzo benefits from a large diurnal range between day and night which, combined with good ventilation from both the mountain and sea breezes ensures an ideal microclimate with a longer growing season, slower sugar accumulation, and a longer time for the development of aromas and flavours which helps local producers in creating their own identity.
Viticulture in Abruzzo is mostly concentrated on the coastal side and in some hilly areas inland. Here the better drainage, exposure, climate and the mountain protection from cold and humid winds are favourable for producing full bodied, round, and beautifully structed tannic red wines. Work in the hilly vineyards is done by hand, with a focus on grape selection in the vineyard and in the winery, which gives the Montepulciano the opportunity to best express its entire potential.
On the borders of Molise, in the southern part, the province of Chieti is Abruzzo’s most productive area. Around 3/4 of regional production is concentrated here, mainly linked to big cooperatives. In the last few years producers have worked to increase the concentration and complexity of their wines, using less oak and producing more elegant styles which enhance traditional grape varieties such as Passerina, Cococciola and Pecorino. Though they also rely on international varieties which have proven to deliver quality; like Merlot, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio.
Abruzzo – Montepulciano’s land
Montepulciano is the key grape variety and represents more than half of the regional vineyard area. It enters into the composition of the main DOCG appellations Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Terre Tollesi (or Tullum). Not to be confused with the town Montepulciano located in Tuscany which is part of the wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which is produced for the most part from Sangiovese grapes.
Amazing red and rose’ wines
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC is the most internationally known, which also includes the Cerasuolo DOC Rosé - same grape, same area, but different winemaking techniques. The rosé is traditionally of a medium pink colour, made with almost 12 hours skin maceration and is generally released unaged and best consumed soon after production while the intensely fruity aromas are at their freshest.
Montepulciano is perfectly integrated in inland areas, in particular in the Peligna Valley where it was initially contained. It spread towards the coast at the end of the 1800s and from the second post-war period became the most cultivated red grape in the region.
Which is your favourite style of Montepulciano?
The wines reflect the winemaking techniques and we find two predominant styles: one fresh and easy drinking, released for immediate consumption, made with shorter maceration, red-fruit flavours, medium body and the second, more intense, with longer maceration and ageing potential.
Montepulciano’s fruit makes it suitable for expressing the oak, as well as subtle 'mineral' nuances that are associated with the properties of the soil in which the vines are grown. With age, it builds layers of complex toast, vanilla, spiciness, leather and earthy notes that many wine lovers enjoy. The best examples have long cellaring potential.
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC – refreshing whites
Along with Montepulciano the white Trebbiano is used to make the wine with the same name Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC, another protagonist in Abruzzo’s wine history. Trebbiano is the most cultivated white grape variety in Italy, but the varieties cultivated here Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbiano Abruzzese are well suited for producing good quality wines with elegant bouquets of white flower, citrus and white peach with some complexity and refreshing acidity especially from the hilly vineyards.
Don’t miss a romantic dinner at a ”trabocco” restaurant
The impressive complexity of flavours and aromas coming from uncontaminated mountain areas, the agricultural and pastoral tradition of its mountain and hill areas and the abundant variety of fish from the Adriatic Sea also make Abruzzo a unique region from the culinary point of view. In your next trip be sure you don’t miss a wonderful dinner at a “trabocco” restaurant - romantic places established on wooden structures stretching over the sea, guaranteeing a thrilling experience as you walk over transparent waters from bright green to deep blue.
While you are visiting Abruzzo try its vibrating whites and rosé wines. But you’ll find also ready for drinking and elegant aged reds.What are the most popular grape varieties in Abruzzo?
Montepulciano for reds and rosé is the primary grape. As whites taste the refreshing Trebbiano and Pecorino.What types of food works well with wines from Abruzzo?
Light reds: mortadella di Campotosto, liver and honey sausages or even a pizza. Full-bodied reds: don’t miss the typical arrosticini and all dishes based on lamb. Whites: try the local fish raw or as a soup.