The Abruzzi lies in central Italy bordering The Marches to the north, Molise to the south, Latium to the west and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the east.
The origin of the name Abruzzi is not certain. It was first used in the medieval period and, according to the most plausible explanation, was derived from the term Aprutium, which was applied to the territory around Teramo. In turn, that district bore the name of its ancient inhabitants, the Pretuzi.
Until 1963, the Abruzzi and its southern neighbor, Molise, formed one region. Today the Abruzzi is divided into four provinces, L’Aquila, the regional capital, Teramo, Pescara and Chieti. Over 62 percent of the region’s surface is mountainous with its majestic landscape spread out toward the Adriatic.
The vine has, since ancient times, been respected in Abruzzi and continues to make a major contribution to the agricultural economy of the region. Because of its mountainous nature, the Abruzzi lacks any extensive plains. Vines are concentrated on the slopes of hills and in the mountains.
As is true of many other regions of central Italy, grape growing in the Abruzzi owes a considerable debt to the Etruscans who introduced the cultivation of the vine into the region in the 7th and 6th centuries BC. One of the practices they introduced was that of training the vine shoots to grow on elm trees. By the 4th century BC, varieties of grapes had been selected and among them was Apianae, an extremely sweet type with the flavor of Moscato.
The varieties most extensively cultivated are those used in the making of the two DOCs, produced virtually in the whole of the region’s vine-growing area. They are a red, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (probably introduced to the Abruzzi in the early 19th century) blended with Sangiovese; and the white Trebbiano which includes the addition of Malvasia, Cococciola and Passerina grapes. Montepulciano also produces a delightful cherry-colored rose’ called Cerasuolo. The only DOCG of the region is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo produced in the sub-zone of Colline Teramane
Quite recently, in keeping with a policy of modernization, there has been widespread planting of Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Riesling Italica and Renano, Sylvaner Verde, Traminer Aromatico, Tocai Friulano and Vetliner for the whites and Pinot Nero, Merlot, Dolcetto and Malbec in the reds.
Production of proprietary wines is on the rise in Abruzzi as winemakers are beginning to blend these other varietals with the typical Trebbiano and Montepulciano. Some producers are beginning to barrique age their wines for a short period.
THE DOCG OF ABRUZZO
MONTEPULICANO d’ABRUZZO – COLLINE TERAMANE
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Colline Teramane – is a wine born of at least 90% Montepulciano with the addition of no more than 10% Sangiovese. The grapes can be obtained only from the sub-zone of Colline Teramane.
The wine is bright ruby red with violet reflections and offers an ethereal, yet intense aroma and a dry, robust, velvety finish. The wine must age for no fewer than two years in wood or chestnut, followed by six months in the bottle before release. Aging begins November 1st of the year of production. Riservas carry a minimum aging requirement of at least three years.