The Abruzzo region.
Abruzzo is an Italian wine region located in the mountainous central Italian
region of Abruzzo along the Adriatic Sea. It is bordered by the Molise wine
region to the south, Marche to the north and Lazio to the west. Abruzzo's
rugged terrain, 65% of which is mountainous, help to isolate the region from
the winemaking influence of the ancient Romans and Etruscans in Tuscany but
the area has had a long history of wine production.
Today more than 22 million cases of wine are produced annually in Abruzzo,
making it the seventh most productive region in Italy, but only 21.5% of which
is made under the Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) designation.
More than two-thirds of the region's wine is produced by co-operatives or sold in bulk to negociants in other Italian wine regions in Tuscany, Piedmont and the Veneto for blending.
The most notable wine of the region is Montepulciano d'Abruzzo produced with the Montepulciano grape that is distinct from the Sangiovese grape behind the Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Together with Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of the most widely exported DOC wine from Italy, particularly to the United States.
While wine is produced in all four of Abruzzo's provinces, the bulk of the production takes place in the province of Chieti which is the fifth largest producing province in all of Italy. Some of the most highly rated wine from Abruzzo comes from the hillside vineyards in the northern provinces of Pescara and Teramo. In the completely mountainous province of L'Aquila in the west, some rosé wine known as Cerasuolo from the Montepulciano grape is produced.
Climate and geography.
The mountainous Abruzzo region includes the highest peak in the Italian Apennines, Corno Grande.
The Abruzzo region has the Apennines running along its western border and includes Corno Grande, the highest point on mainland Italy. The mountain range serves as a tempering influence on the climate, blocking many storms that come in from the west. However, this does leave the area prone to storm systems originating from the east, which are blocked in their westward progression by the mountains, causing high levels of precipitation to fall on the vineyards, as happened during several rain soaked vintages of the late 1990s.
To the east, the Adriatic Sea provides a moderating Mediterranean climate for the vineyards that run along a west-east orientation in calcareous clay river valleys that flow from the mountains to the seas.In the northern region of Abruzzo, along the Marche border, the microclimates, vineyard soils and altitude of many vineyards are similar to other central Italian wine regions in Tuscany, Umbria and Marche, while the warmer, flatter, more humid and fertile vineyard sites in the southern Chieti have microclimates more similar to southern Italian wine regions like Calabria and Apulia.
Abruzzo has approximately 30,000 hectares of vineyards planted in the region, with roughly half devoted to DOC production.
Controguerra DOC - Created in 1996 and located in the hills and valleys around the commune of Controguerra, whose name means "anti-war" in the local dialect. in the Teramo province. Until its creation, the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC was the only permitted white wine DOC in Abruzzo.
Reds are made predominately from the Montepulciano grape (minimum 60% of the wine) with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc permitted to make up to 15% and other local red varieties the remaining 25%. Whites are a blend of Trebbiano Toscano (60-70%) and Passerina (15%) with other local white varieties permitted up to 25%. A sparkling spumante style is produced from Trebbiano Toscano (60%) and at least 30% combine of Chardonnay, Verdicchio and Pecorino with other local white varieties permitted up to 10%. Passito and vino novello styles of wine can also be produced in this DOC as well as varietal Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Ciliegiolo and Pinot nero.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC - Created in 1968 as a red/rosé wine only DOC that covers 7,500 hectares throughout Abruzzo. The wines are made from at least 85% Montepulciano with Sangiovese permitted up to 15%. In the sub-zones of Casauria and Terre dei Vestini the wines must be made from 100% Montepulciano. The wines must be aged a minimum of 5 months prior to release. Wines labeled as Vecchio aged at least two years in wood such as oak barrels. Rosés made under the same DOC requirements as the reds (grape varieties, harvest yield and alcohol level) are labeled as Cerasuolo meaning "cherry-red".
Colline Teramane DOCG - Created in 1995 as a DOC and elevated to DOCG status in 2003. This wine is produced from grapes grown only among 30 select communes in the province of Teramo. While harvest, aging and alcohol levels regulations are similar to the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, the wine must be made from at least 90% Montepulciano with no more than 10% of Sangiovese permitted in the wine.
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC - Created in 1972 as white wine DOC that covers virtually the entire Abruzzo region. This DOC has one of the highest permitted yields in all of Italy at 17.5 hl/ha. The wine is made from the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo grape, local name for Bombino bianco but may be another grape variety and Trebbiano Toscano, which was once thought to be the same grape as Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, must account for at least 85% of the blend with Malvasia Toscano, Cococciola and Passerina permitted to make up to 15% of the blend. The wines must be aged a minimum of 5 months prior to release and attain a minimum alcohol level of at least 11.5%.
Villamagna DOC - Established as a red wine DOC in 2011. As of 2014 it covers 32 hectares with 172 hl of wine produced. Red: Montepulciano.
Terre Tollesi DOC - Established as a DOC in 2008. It is a small DOC, and as of 2014 it covers 21 hectares with 723hl of wine produced. It allows a wide variety of grapes to be produced. White: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, Trebbiano Toscana, Falanghina, Malvasia, Moscato, Passerina, and Chardonnay. Red: Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.
Ortona DOC - Established as a DOC in 2011. As of 2014 it covers 18 hectares with 100 hl of wine produced. White: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo or Trebbiano Toscana. Red: Montepulciano
A semi-sparkling frizzante Pecorino from the Terre di Chieti IGT in Abruzzo.
In addition to the region's DOCs, Abruzzo is also home to eight Indicazione geografica tipica (IGT) designations--Alto Tirino, Colli del Sangro, Colline Frentane, Colline Pescaresi, Colline Teatine, Vastese also known as Histonium, Terre di Chieti and Valle Peligna. Many producers use these IGT to produce proprietary red blends using more international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.