Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Abruzzo Region
The Abruzzo Wine Region
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The Abruzzo Wine Region
Abruzzo is a very varied and interesting region, both from the point of view of the wines produced there, both from that of the regional gastronomy. Abruzzo is a mainly mountainous or hilly region, limited to the north by the river Tronto, which marks the border with Marche, to the east by the Central Appennini mountains which divide it from Lazio, south by the river Trigno, beyond which there is the Molise region, and west by the Adriatic Sea. To the west the mountain range formed by the Monti della Laga, the Gran Sasso and the Maiella Massif, which slopes gently towards a hilly sub-Apennine area, until reaching the Adriatic. The climate of the region is mild, especially on the Adriatic side. It becomes more continental going inwards and with increasing altitude. The average rainfall level is good, more scarce on the coast and higher inland.
Viticulture in Abruzzo
The area planted with vines in Abruzzo exceeds 84,000 acres, of which almost 90% is on the hills, and 10% on mountains. As a type of training, Pergola (locally called “Capanna”) is still very widespread while obsolete systems such as the Alberata maritata have been replaced by more modern pruning forms, such as the cordon and Guyot. The total wine production exceeds 2.5 million hectoliters, of which over 30% are represented by DOC and DOCG appellations .
The Grape Varieties of Abruzzo
The wine scene is characterized by the presence of indigenous varieties, both black and white grapes. The most famous grape variety is Montepulciano, widespread throughout the region and neighboring regions, where it is used for DOC wines such as Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero in Marche and Rosso Biferno in Molise. This vine has a certain rusticity, it is resistant to pests (despite having a certain sensitivity to powdery mildew) and in the mid-Abruzzo hills it enhances its characteristics, especially as regards the content of polyphenolic substances, particularly anthocyanins and tannins responsible for the red color. The Montonico is an indigenous variety grown in the municipalities of Bisenti and Cermignano, on the slopes of Gran Sasso, where the day-night temperature range is remarkable, especially during the summer. It gives a wine with unique characteristics, both in the still version and in the sparkling one, made with the classic method. The Passerina is mainly cultivated in the Teramo area, in the municipalities of Controguerra and neighboring areas, up to over Giulianova (today in the whole region). The Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is known for its great acidity and is usually used as a cut to give freshness to blends. The Cococciola is a white grape variety with a large grape, coming from the province of Chieti, cultivated particularly in the municipalities of Vacri and Villamagna. The Pecorino is typical of the Piceno-Aprutina back, although its origins appear to be in the mountain villages such as Visso, Arquata del Tronto and neighbors. The Sangiovese is inevitable even in Abruzzo, as in all regions of central Italy. Among the international white varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot blanc, Pinot gris, among the black berried ones, Merlot, Cabernet franc and Cabernet sauvignon.
The Denominations of Origin and the Wines in Abruzzo
The most famous wine is the Montepulciano. As Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG it must undergo an year of wood maturation before coming to the market while the same wine from the appellation Colline Teramane DOC has no special requirements. The rosé Cerasuolo d ‘Abruzzo DOC is fruity , fresh, soft, full-bodied but yet easy to drink, and may pair with all local food recipes.
Other DOCs in the region are the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC, the Controguerra DOC (with its different types of wines ranging from passito to spumante, from indigenous or international grapes, all focused on the territory since only five municipalities are involved). A further appellation has been introduced two years ago, the Abruzzo DOC, which covers all the indigenous grape varieties of the Abruzzo region, including sparkling and passito wines .
The Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC wine is obtained from blends of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo with other varieties such as Cococciola, Passerina, Pecorino, Malvasia and others. With the Montonico grape also a classic method sparkling wine is made, unique and inimitable, with clear organoleptic characteristics, and the freshness allowed by medium-long maturation times. Passerina grapes give both still and sparkling wines, fresh, fruity, with a light floral white flowers scent in young wines, which are full- bodied and well structured. The Cococciola wine has initially an herbaceous character, but it evolves with maturation, becoming rich in acidity and therefore displaying great freshness. Today it is used both in blends (also for sparkling wines) and in some cases even as varietal wine. The Pecorino grape gives a strong and structured wine white, thanks to the good sugar content of the grapes, with a good acidity making it fresh and lively.
A product made with the typical grapes of the region is the so-called cooked wine, not really marketable as a real wine, but as a traditional agri-food product. The cooked wine cooked is produced by cooking the must, with a reduction of approximately 30% by volume, leading to an amber colored beverage, more or less clear, due to caramelization of sugars. The must is then fermented, the resulting wine is sweet, with notes of jam, liquorice root and spices. It pairs well with dry desserts typical of the area. The cooked must is also used for the production of typical sweets such as for example the nevole.
In Abruzzo there is only one DOCG appellation, the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramene DOCG, 7 DOCs and 8 IGTs. There are also 6 agri-food PDOs , four of which just for the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a very important production of this region. Worth to be mentioned is the Aquila PDO Saffron.
The Regional Cuisine of Abruzzo
Bread and baked goods play an important role in the Abruzzo gastronomy, with a vast assortment of products such as corn bread , rich Easter Pizza, bread with potatoes and the panonta, prepared with a mixture greased in fried bacon.
Among the pasta courses the famous spaghetti alla chitarra (also known as tonnarelli or maccheroni alla chitarra), square-section egg pasta also popular in Molise and Puglia. In Abruzzo the spaghetti alla chitarra are traditionally accompanied by rich sauces based on mixed meats. The scrippelle, originating in the area of Teramo , are very thin omelettes similar to French crêpes . They can be served with rasped pecorino cheese and dipped in chicken broth, stuffed with meat and baked, or form the basis of tasty timbales.
Among the meat recipes the classic sheep arrosticini, simple cubes of meat mutton prepared on a skewer and cooked on brace. The region offers several varieties of cheese, and mozzarella. Different types of pork liver sausages stand out as cured meat specialties.
Among the desserts, various types of taralli, and the bocconotti , the ferratelle , the ducal pa , the fiadone and the nougat sweets. The confetti of Sulmona are worldwide famous.