Weinreise in den Abruzzen – #Abruzzowine

#ABRUZZO:  A PERFECT LAND FOR WINEMAKING

Winemaking in Abruzzo is big business. This can be seen by the increase in quality and keen interest shown by critics and the market, as well as the success it has gained every year in national and international competitions. Enhancement of the territory and its most significant native grape varieties, together with a new generation of oenologists and winemakers can today be considered its strong points. Montepulciano in particular has been considered for quite a few years one of the great varieties of red grape in Italy and represents more than half the regional ampelographic base, as well as being the reference variety for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo doc, which celebrated 50 years in 2018. The white variety, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, gives its name to another doc which is also a main player in the region’s winemaking history.  

The Abruzzo territoryhas a natural predisposition for winegrowing, located between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso d’Italia and Majella massifs where three National Parks and more than ten national and regional reserves unfold. Abruzzo can be divided into two zones: the inland mountainous area which makes up more than 65% of the entire region, and the coastal area with extensive hills. 

The climateis mild in the area on the Adriatic-facing side of the Apennines and more continental in the inland basins. Overall, therefore, the advantages of good rainfall and high levels of sunlight combine with a generally mild climate. The imposing Gran Sasso and Majella massifs located a short distance from the sea (30-40 minutes by car) generate sharp temperature changes between day and night which, together with good ventilation, ensure an ideal microclimate for the vines to grow and produce extraordinarily high-quality grapes. 

PRODUCTION 

The first proof of a solid winemaking tradition dates back to ancient times, in the texts of Ovid, Polybius and Pliny the Elder. From then wine production spread to the whole region, centring around the hills and coastal area, evolving rapidly over the last half century to reach a distinct increase in quality. It is without a doubt the most significant segment of the region’s agriculture with over 32,000 hectares of vineyards producing 3.5 million hectolitres each year, more than a million of which are Controlled Designation of Origin, and almost 80% are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. 

The production areasare concentrated almost entirely in the hills: in particular, the province of Chieti accounts for more than 75% of vineyards, followed by Pescara and Teramo, each accounting for about 10%, then L’Aquila with less than 4%. The most widespread cultivation technique used in Abruzzo is the “Abruzzo pergola” which is seen in over 80% of the regional vineyards, whilst rows (cordon trained, spurred cordon, gdc) are used for the majority of new installations and replanting. More than 83% of production is from the province of Chieti, near the hilly coast. The provinces of Pescara and Teramo account for about 10% and 6% respectively, whilst about 1% comes from the province of L’Aquila.   

Amongst the most widespread wine varieties, as already mentioned, is Montepulciano, cultivated in around 17,000 hectares, with a trend of continuous growth. Trebbiani follows with over 12,000 hectares and a series of native varieties. Amongst these are Pecorino, Passerina, Cococciola and Montonico which are gaining increasing interest from the market. 

Three quarters of the total productionof wine in Abruzzo comes from 40 cooperative wineries (32 of which operate in the Chieti province) which, along with private wineries make up a structure of about 250 companies involved in transformation. 

Reference marketsfor Abruzzo wine, other than Italy, are: Germany, the United States and Canada. The English and North European markets such as Sweden and Denmark are also showing high growth, as well as the East. The Abruzzo wine sector continues its positive trend and proves itself to be one of the driving forces behind the region’s economy. According to the Italian National Statistics Institute, which has updated its regional data regarding foreign commerce, the 2018 indeed closed with an increase in the value of Abruzzo wine worldwide exports of 6.3%, above the national average (3.3%) with revenues of over 182million euro. 

The Wines

Montepulciano d’Abruzzois the most representative of the regional culture of wine. Covering more than half the ampelographic area, it succeeds in being one of the greatest Italian reds. The production of rosé wines is also of major significance. These wines combine structure and crispness, such as Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo which from 2010 is the first designation in Italy dedicated exclusively to rosé. At the same time, knowledge and distribution of the other native wines, especially whites, is growing. One of these is,Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, a versatile white wine with great potential, appreciated both when young for its palatability and when more mature for its complexity. The production of significant still white wines, such as Pecorino, whose prestigious expressions complement the fruit and bring out the bouquet, or PasserinaCococciolaand Montonico,stands out alongside Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Recent news is the success of a production of sparkling wine from native varieties, obtained mostly using the Martinotti method which Abruzzo is investing in and paying great attention to, reassured by a continuously rising consumer trend in this type.  

MONTEPULCIANO D’ABRUZZO DOC 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Doc is without a doubt the wine that best represents the Abruzzo wines and in 2018 it was celebrated 50 years. Numerous historic documents show that the Montepulciano variety has been present in the region since the mid-18thcentury and has found in this land its ideal environment. Once cultivated in the Peligna valley (in the L’Aquila province) and the inland hills in the province of Pescara, from the 1950’s onwards its cultivation spread throughout the entire hilly coastal area and is today the main red variety in the region.  

Alone it accounts for over 80% of total Doc wines produced in Abruzzo and is one of the top three Doc wines produced in Italy. It’s a red berry variety, from a medium-compact conical, pyramid-shaped cluster, often winged and with elongated grapes with a thick and pruinose skin. It is late-maturing and yields a ruby red coloured wine with a fragrance of violet, cherry, woodland berries and liquorice which can be immediately enjoyed if drunk as a young wine or become richer if matured in oak barrels over a long period. 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Doc is obtained exclusively from vineyards located on hilly or high ground, the altitude of which must not be higher than 500 metres above sea level or, exclusively for south-facing areas, no higher than 600 metres; the area where this wine is grown makes up around 17,000 hectares. It is obtained almost exclusively from grapes of the same name and alone accounts for 70% of the total Doc wines produced in Abruzzo, with a bottled volume of over 664,000hl (data from Agroqualità 2018), confirming its leadership amongst Doc wines produced in Italy. 

Two “sub-designations” have been recognised from the 2006 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo harvest for the province of Pescara: “Terre dei Vestini” and “Casauria o Terre di Casauria”. From the 2010 harvest, for the province of Chieti, one “sub-zone” has been recognised: “Teate” whilst for the province of ‘Aquila two “sub-zones” have been recognised: „Terre dei Peligni“ and „Alto Tirino“.

TREBBIANO D’ABRUZZO DOC

Evidence of the existence of the trebbiano grape variety in Abruzzo dates back to the 16th century when it was pointed out the presence of a wine made from Trebulanum grapes in the Fucino and the Peligna areas. Trebbiano grape is the most coltivated white grape in the all of Italy, but in Abruzzo it has found its maximum expression thanks to the climatic condition of the region with its closeness to the sea and for the caracteristic of the land. From the sixties onwards it had a new evolution and in 1972 Doc Trebbiano d’Abruzzo was produced. Trebbiano is a medium to late harvest vine, with grapes ripening approximately from the middle of September. It is cultivated in Abruzzo on more than 12,000 hectares of land. 

Today Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC is made from trebbiano d’Abruzzo and/or trebbiano Toscano varieties with the help of other white grapes suitable for cultivation in the Abruzzo region, either alone or blended up to a maximum of 15%. Straw yellow in colour, this wine stands out for its pleasant flowery and fruity bouquet in particolar of golden appel, dry fruit and yellow blooms, fresh, with a dry and harmonious taste. It has good acidity wich makes it ideal for ageing. The grapes used to make Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC come exclusively from vineyards located in hilly or plateau soils, with an altitude not exceeding 500 metres above sea level and exceptionally 600 metres for those exposed to the south. The form of its growth is the tradinal system called pergola abruzzese. It prefers clay or limestone land.

CERASUOLO D’ABRUZZO DOC

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is obtained from montepulciano grapes using a particular vinification technique, which limits the period of fermentation in the presence of the skins to a few hours or through „white“ vinification. This is an ancient method, always widely used in the land of Abruzzo, which over the years has undergone a constant technical evolution while remaining strongly tied to tradition.

Its extraordinary freshness combined with the elegance of its fragrances makes Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo a particularly pleasant and fascinating wine. The Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a typical cherry-red hue, more or less intense, know itslef as “The Cerasuolo”. It has a fragrant, delicately winy, fruity, fine and intense bouquet of cherries and sweet morello.

The taste is fresh, soft, delicate but at the same time wll-structured, with an almond aftertaste; these elements satisfy the most demanding palates. This is a perfect apertitif wine and marries extremely well with salmis or cured meats and lightly-matured cheeses, with first courses flavoured with tomato or meat-based sauces and also with white meats and pizza. 

ABRUZZO DOC

„Abruzzo“ DOC was created to protect and enhance the main autochthonous regional varieties, in particular Pecorino and Passerina, capable of satisfying even the most attentive and discerning consumers with fresh, fruity and elegant wines. By means of the „Abruzzo“ DOC, the territory of origin of these wines has been directly identified, as a guarantee of their quality, typicality and origin.

Starting from the 2010 harvest, top quality wines available on the market, mainly autochthonous white wines, the result of intense work first in the vineyards and then in the cellars.

THE TOURISTIC ITINERARY TO GET TO KNOW ABRUZZO AND ITS WINE CELLARS

Beauty, history, nature, landscape and wine are Inseparable elements when talking about Abruzzo, an unexplored territory where this combination found its perfect expression. In fact, there are two hundred wine cellars spread throughout the heterogeneous landscape of Abruzzo marked by human labour, between the sea and the mountains, the vineyards and the hills scattered across La Costa dei Trabocchi to the Aquiline Highlands.

 An absolutely incredible open network to see and to experience. So much so that the Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo has created a project system to promote and support a tourist itinerary capable of coordinating the cultural, artistic and natural regional attractions with the hospitality of the Abruzzeze wine cellar. In this way last year there was founded “Itinerary- Abruzzo of wine and culture”, an online platform that gives you the opportunity to discover the “Green Region” of Europe through an Itinerary of topics that, between one glass an another, will take you to new wine cellars and curiosities.

At Vinitaly, as a preview, the Consortium will present as part of its technological development, a new APP “Percorsi” (Itinerary), for iOs and Android platforms. The aim of the app is to be an innovative business card of Abruzzo for tourists that are travelling around the region; it has touristic information and high quality artistic and cultural content all in one app, intuitive and ready to use. All you have to do is download the app to navigate the rich under-menu which offers for every itinerary a description of the streets and the territory with the principal places of the itinerary. It illustrates monuments, hermitages, museums, churches to visit with references and street indications, a list of wine cellars with addresses and the company’s details and services provided in every structure (wine tasting, food service, sales, bookings, visits to the wine cellars and visits to the vineyards). There are also suggestions regarding where to eat with a list of restaurants in the area. All in all, every itinerary has all the enviromental, historical and cultural references indispensable to understand and experience the territory and its products, as well as the friendly advice of the producers. In addition, with the app it will be possible to create an account where you can save the stages of your choice, set preferences and send reviews about the places you visited.

For all the users, there are available 15 itineraries, each of them declinable and adaptable to the requirements and interests of every single user, that can use different filters (sea, mountains, adventures, culture, relaxation and nature) and be able to choose the most suitable for each requirement. More than 200 places of cultural and naturalistic interest, plus from the feature “around and about” from each stop there can be discovered the nearby beauties, the wine cellars and restaurants, for a tour of 360°. Plus, a section dedicated to the news and events organized in Italy and abroad by Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo.

For now, you can choose between the Valle del Vomano – between the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga; In the Pescara area, between art e nature; Acque d’Abruzzo, between eremi and borghi; from Peligni al Sangro; From the Calanchi to the fortezza borbonica; Looking at the Majella; In the lands of the Marrucini; To the discovery of the Frentani; The routes of dell’olio; Between the sea and the lakes; The Pescara of the sea and the fountains; The coast of the Trabocchi; Towards ancient l’Abruzzo; From l’Aquila you can watch the stars; From the Fucino to the highlands of the Rocche.

Today, tourists often rely on communities, portals, online and Apps to plan the stages of their own trips, looking for an exciting itinerary and experiences, explained the President of the Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo Valentino Di Campli – “Itinerary always wants to be even more a point of reference for visitors, tourists, public and private operators able to publicize the knowledge of the place and the tourist itinerary, promoting the receptiveness of the wine cellars, promoting events and the territory”.

Tourism connected to the wine&food tourism, enogastronomical tourism or wine tourism in Italy is growing in strength. In the last five years the Italians who buy directly from the wine cellars (direct sales), from the farmers, from the farms or from the agricultural markets has tripled. “Wine&food tourism represents an extraordinary opportunity to support the promotion of our Region and an occasion to promote with the support of clients for our wine cellars”, adds Di Campli. “Personalising the contact with wine merchants and the wine acquires particular elements which make them unique to the eyes of the user. Those who visit a wine company are more likely to maintain contact and buy their products as well as passing on that experience to their friends.

This App, along with the website, represents only another stage of a “journey” whose objective is to organise an offer to tourists more organically connected to the wine companies”. The website (www.percorsidaabruzzo.com/discoverabruzzo.wine) #Abruzzowine will be dedicated to the story telling of the project and the touristic proposals made in collaboration with the tour operator.

Ready to begin now? Begin your journey on percorsidaabruzzo.com

THE CONSORZIO VINI D’ABRUZZO

The Consorzio di Tutela dei Vini d’Abruzzo (Consortium for the Protection of Wines of Abruzzo) is a non-profit association founded in 2003 with a decree from the Ministry of Agricultural Policy (MiPAF) in order to protect, enhance and oversee the interests linked to the designations in its association. It ensures denomination rules and regulations are respected, oversees proposals to update these regulations and coordinates the work of the sector’s production categories in order to give value to the single designations. 

The Consorzio protects wines with a Controlled Designation of Origin: 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Doc

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Doc

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Doc

Abruzzo Doc

Villamagna Doc

In addition, it also protects wines with a Typical Geographical Indication:

Colline Pescaresi Igt

Colline Teatine Igt

Colline Frentane Igt

Colli del Sangro Igt

Del Vastese or Histonium Igt

Terre di Chieti Igt

Terre Aquilane or Terre de L’Aquila Igt

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