Abruzzo - Food and Wines - Wines
In a nation of myriad appellations, the Abruzzi offers wine drinkers rare and refreshing simplicity. There are only two DOCs and precious few unclassified wines of note in a region that is two-thirds mountains and one-third hills with highly favourable natural conditions for grapevines. Growers favour the predominant Montepulciano and Trebbiano, source of their two regional DOCs, while growing some highly productive vines (the region has Italy's highest average yields) for table wine and table grapes and experimenting in a so far unconvincing way with outside varieties.
Still, despite the outward simplicity, certain nuances of production are worth pointing out. The native Montepulciano (not to be confused with the town of that name in Tuscany where Vino Nobile is made) is a vine of undeniable distinction, even if its inherent class is not as widely acclaimed as it deserves to be. In parts of the Abruzzi, most notably in the low hills of the northern province of Teramo, Montepulciano becomes a red of irresistible character - full-bodied, even robust, with a capacity to age but with such supple smoothness that it can be eminently drinkable even when young. In higher inland areas, or from vineyards where growers have the habit of excessive yields, the wines tend to be lighter, often better suited to Cerasuolo, a sturdy, cherry-coloured rose'. A fair quantity of inky, strong blending wine is also produced in the region.
Most Trebbiano is based on the prolific Tuscan variety, which makes light, rather acidic whites of subtle aroma and flavour. A few growers work with the "true" Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (which may or may not be related to the Bombino Bianco of Apulia). One manages to make a Trebbiano of remarkable depth and texture, with a propensity to develop almost Burgandy-like complexity with four or five years, sometimes even more, of ageing. But these fine wines are rarely found in commerce, even in Italy.