This month my fellow Italian wine lovers are focusing on the food and wine of Abruzzo. Many know the wines of Piedmonte and Tuscany, but other fascinating wine regions in Italy deserve attention, and Abruzzo is one of them.
Abruzzo is an Italian wine region located in the mountainous central Italian region along the Adriatic Sea. Abruzzo’s rugged terrain is mountainous, thus isolating it from the rest of Italy’s wine-producing regions. In spite of the geographic barriers, Abruzzo has a long history of winemaking.
Climate & Terroir
Abruzzo sets itself apart from other wine regions of Italy with its climate, soils, and geography. Abruzzo has the Apennines Mountain along its western border with Corno Grande being the highest point in all of Italy. The mountains act as a natural barrier from the inclement weather from the west. To the east is the Adriatic Sea which provides a Mediterranean climate for the region. With warm days followed by cool nights, Abruzzo has the perfect Mediterranean climate for grape growing.
The vineyards are made of calcareous clay. In the northern region of Abruzzo, the microclimates, soils, and altitude are similar to other central Italian wine regions in Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche. The warmer, flatter, more humid and fertile vineyard sites in the south have microclimates more similar to the southern Italian wine regions.
The region is highly regarded for growing Montepulciano(grape variety – no relationship to the village). Montepulciano is the 5th most widely planted grape of Italy and is the principal grape behind the DOC wine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is a red grape that is dark in color and tannic. It has medium acidity and a nice fruit profile.
Trebbiano Abruzzo is the youthful native white grape variety of Abruzzo. It is light and fresh with citrus and tropical notes and a lovely minerality. Coccociolo is another white variety that is local and native to Abruzzo.
Gastronomy of Abruzzo
Many consider Abruzzo cuisine to be the purest Italian cuisine? And you may ask why? I described earlier, the region is fairly isolated due to the mountains and Adriatic sea. Other parts of Italy have had foreign influences. The northeast has been influenced by the French and Alto Adige/Trentino/Veneto have been influenced by the Germans and Austrians. In the south, there are Spanish, African and Arabic influences. Thus many feel Abruzzo is one of the purest and orginal form of Italian cuisine.
Abruzzo’s cuisine is traditional in style. It is a region where land and sea merge to give the best of both. In the mountains, you have lamb and sheep. Nothing says more Abruzzo than a lamb ragu. Another Abruzzo lamb specialty is arrosticini, these are delectable lamb chunks on skewers that are cooked over a wood fire served with bruschetta. Ricotta made from sheep’s milk in Abruzzo is very popular.
As you come down the mountain you find lots of grain, perfect for fresh pasta made from hard durum wheat or semolina. Some of Italy’s finest pasta is made from the grains of Abruzzo.
Lastly, as you approach the ocean, you find many coastal towns serving elegant seafare. Many fresh tomato sauces are cooked in earthenware pottery with a bit of spice and the freshest seafood(clams & mussels). Most always the fish is grilled and then served with pasta. They are also highly regarded for these local fresh vegetables like artichokes, eggplant, and cauliflower.
Abruzzo desserts are world-famous, most known for its sugar-coated almonds from Sulmona and Terrone. For chocolate lovers, the best is their chocolate nougat with almonds, from L’Aquila and Parrozzo.
Three Must-Try Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
Caldora Yume Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC 2015 (SRP $25.00) – Caldora Yume is made of prestigious grapes. The wine represents hope and dreams(Yume in Japanese means “dream”).
It is a red ruby color with garnet highlights. Intense and persistent, a spicy aroma with hints of chocolate and tar but never to dominate over its copious fruit. The . wine has good structure, good tannins and well-balanced.
Yume is perfect with a rich main course. Typical Abruzzo’s salami and with roasted and stewed meat is the ideal pairing.
Caroso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP Riserva 2013 (SRP $32.00) – The name Caroso is derived from the Italian, “Caro,” meaning elegant, rich and valued. It is sourced from a selection of exceptionally old vines (more than 55 yrs) planted on undulating hillsides that overlook the Adriatic. This is a truly unique corner of the world and it produces a truly unique and refined wine.
The wine is deep purple with hints of plums and blackberry preserve. Velvety tannins and moderate acidity frame a muscular structure and long finish.
Caroso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo stands up to the most regal of dishes, although it works equally well on its own as a Vino da Meditazione. A classic pairing is seared chateaubriand.
Laus Vitae Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOP 2012 (SRP $40.00) – Laus Vitae represents the top of the quality pyramid for Codice Citra. Sourced from vines that average 40 years in age, and which grow at over 900 feet above sea level, the production of Laus Vitae is highly limited.
Laus Vitae is full-bodied with a long, lingering finished. Soft, yet firm and balanced tannins with notes of red fruit, mulberry, sour cherry preserve, and violet. There are hints of cocoa, black pepper, vanilla, nuts, and leather.
The wine is complex and rich with layers of flavors. It pairs well with roasted red meats and game, pappardelle with boar, stuffed mushrooms, polenta with sausage, and aged cheeses, especially 5-8-year-old Pecorino from Abruzzo.
Below are my Italian Food, Wine and Travel participants with their food and wine pairing selections. Be sure to join our live Twitter chat on Saturday, October 5th at 11 am EST at #ItalianFWT.
- Steven from Wine and Food Pairings will discuss “Cioppino – Red or White Wine? #Italian FWT”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm will share about “The Food and Wines of Abruzzo”
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla will bring us “Scrippelle ‘mbusse + Ferzo Passerina”
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen will reveal “5 Iconic Abruzzo Wines to Try from Torre Zambra”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator from tastes and shares “3 Montepulciano and 1 Trebbiano from d’Abruzzo #ItalianFWT”
- Cindy from Grape Experiences from suggests the you “Immerse Yourself in Wines from Abruzzo for a Genuine Taste of Italy”
- Pinny from Chinese Food and Wine Pairing is “Celebrating Abruzzo Wines with the Ferzo Passerina, Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Caldora Chardonnay”
- Linda from My Full Wine Glass suggests “Abruzzo wines to pair with fresh fall produce (#ItalianFWT)”
- Jeff foodwineclick brings us “Pairing Magic with Ferzo Pecorino and Squash Risotto”
- Nicole from Somm’s Table“Cooking to the Wine: Lammidia Anfora Rosso from Abruzzo & Pot Roast with Tomatoes and Chickpeas”
- David from Cooking Chat Cooking Chat will share “Baked Haddock with Pasta and White Wine from Abruzzo”
- Susannah from Avvinare will take “A Fresh Look at the Wines of Abruzzo”
- Rupal from Syrah Queen will share “Exploring The Wine & Gastronomy of Abruzzo”
- Katarina from Grapevine Adventures San Lorenzo Winery – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo between Sea and Mountain