Abruzzo Red Wine
More wine is produced in Abruzzo each year than in the entire country of Chile. As Michael Caine would say – Not a lot of people know that.
Our own – and Abruzzo’s – ‘house red’ is Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is one of those rare grape varieties that’s capable of producing good, everyday red wine that sells for around €2-3 a bottle; or, especially from the premier wine-growing areas of Teramo province in the north of Abruzzo, wine of real excellence, ageing potential, and finesse.
But in comparison to the stratospheric prices that some Italian reds from Piedmont and Tuscany can command, Abruzzo’s very best will rarely set you back more than around €30 or so and the quality is superb.
If you’re here from mid- to late-November, you’ll enjoy the many festivals that take place to celebrate the arrival of the new season’s red wine, Vino Novello. It’s not a wine made for export – so you won’t really find it outside Abruzzo, let alone outside Italy – and it’s only produced in small quantities, so by Christmas, it’s pretty much all gone.
In a good year, Vino Novello offers delicious, fruit-driven wines – and as its arrival also coincides with new season olive oil and the chestnut harvest, if you’re a wine lover, it’s worth booking a long weekend here and trying everything on offer !
Abruzzo White Wine
If ‘Abruzzo red’ means Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, then ‘Abruzzo White’ usually means Trebbiano D’Abruzzo.
Trebbiano wine is about as good a hot-weather bottle as you’ll find in Italy. At its best, crisp, fruity, dry and refreshing.
It isn’t quaffed in such great quantities as Montepulciano because local tastes stick firmly with red – even to the extent of drinking it chilled in summer. A taste you could acquire…
But that inexhaustible thirst for Montepulciano means you can often find a good Trebbiano at a bargain price. Around €5 will buy you an excellent bottle. Drink within a year or two of the vintage.
Watch out too for the rapidly rising star of Abruzzo whites. Pecorino is an ancient Abruzzo heritage grape variety, rescued from the brink of extinction in the mid-1990s and now being grown in increasing quantities – especially in our local area.
Our personal preference is for Pecorino over Trebbiano – more flavour and character – and the very best you’ll find is ‘Unico’ from Tenuta Ulisse just outside Crecchio. The 2008 vintage was named ‘Best Italian White Wine’ at the 2009 International Wine Challenge in London, also picking up a Gold Medal for ‘Best Pecorino’.
The 2008 is sadly long-gone, but you can buy current vintages for around €12 – a bargain price for a superb wine.
Abruzzo Pink Wine
There’s a choice of two distinct types. Most common – and unique to Abruzzo – is Cerasuolo: what Americans would refer to as a ‘blush’ wine.
It’s made by allowing the skins of the red Montepulciano grape just the briefest contact with the juice produced immediately after pressing in the initial stages of the wine-making process. This results in a fuller-flavoured, fuller-bodied, stronger-than-usual pink wine
There’s also rosato – traditionally-made by blending together red and white grape varieties. It’s much lighter and what you’d more usually expect of a rosé wine.
Neither is particularly popular, which is strange, because a well-made Cerasuolo (especially) is a good wine and goes particularly well with seafood. Or just on its own.
It’s a perfect summer wine for sipping by the pool and a typical bottle will set you back around €4.