It’s no secret that I love talking about all things Italy but more importantly, all things Abruzzo. However, one of my favorite topics is Italian wine and how it’s a very rich part of each region’s culture and identity. All 20 regions in Italy, from North to South, produce wine that we love for its diversity of style, protection of indigenous varieties, food-friendliness and, typically, great value. There is great pride in grape cultivation and wine production which would explain why quality levels are exceptionally high. As a way to protect the Italian wine industry, as well as to assure the quality of Italian wine, in the 1960s the Italian government introduced wine classification system, DOC - Denominazione di Origine Controllata (denomination of controlled origin) and DOCG - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin). You will notice a label wrapped around the neck of the wine bottle indicating the DOC or DOCG classification. However, there are many top-quality Italian wines that fall out of the DOC or DOCG system. The quality will ultimately come down to the individual producer.
One of the best ways to discover Abruzzo, or any Italian region, is through its wine. The history of wine production in Abruzzo has dates back centuries. However, in the last 50 years the region has demonstrated growth in quality, interest and success in wine production. Not to mention the warm daytime temperatures combined with cool evening winds provides the perfect environment for grapes to thrive. Abruzzo is best known for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOCG) Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (DOC) , Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (DOC) and Pecorino.
As the fifth most planted grape varietal in all of Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the red wine of note in the region. It’s known as a hearty, inexpensive everyday red. It may not have the same recognition as Sangiovese however, it offers more than it gets credit for. The Peligna Valley (the birthplace of the Montepulciano grape and personally, my favorite part of Abruzzo) is a specific sub-zone of L’Aquilano, area if wine production in L’Aquila. Montepulciano wines made here appear to have outstanding potential and refinement. Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo, also made from the Montepulciano grape, is darker than most roses however, it would still be considered a rosato. It has a light unique flavor and cherry like color which is an ode to its name, Cerasuolo meaning “cherry”.
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the name of the golden white wine, with the grape called Trebbiano Abruzzese. The official Trebbiano d'Abruzzo production zone covers precisely the same area as that of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo – in other words, all parts of Abruzzo which are not dominated by mountains. Pecorino is the dry and minerally white wine that can be found not only in Abruzzo but also Le Marche, Umbria and Tuscany. This wine almost became extinct however, it has been brought back to life by young, up and coming wine producers in Abruzzo. The name Pecorino means "little sheep" and is perhaps more widely associated with Pecorino cheese and coincidentally, is a good match for the twinning wine.
Italian wine is more than Sangiovese and Chianti found in Tuscany. You can travel throughout the entire Italian peninsula and islands to learn each region’s unique story that can only be found in its wine. If you're looking to travel to a new part of Italy while staying in the comforts of your home, this is the way to do it.