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WSET Diploma: Unit 3: Italy > Abruzzo > Flashcards

Flashcards in Abruzzo Deck (14)
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Eastern side of Central Italy, ranging from Mountains to the coast


Montepulciano d' Abruzzo

Montepulciano grape produces early drinking, simple wines of deep colour and moderate acidity.


Trebbiano d' Abruzzo

Uses Bombino (which is not usually a snubvariety of Trebbiano).



Mountainous region in central Italy with a significant coastline on the Adriatic sea to the south of marche and an important producer of wine (see map under italy). Abruzzo is seventh among Italy’s regions in terms of production, with a total output of just over 2 million hl (nearly 53 million gal) in 2011. Despite the presence of one of Italy’s better red grape varieties montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the warm climate, and favourable vineyard sites where the hills descend towards the Adriatic and enjoy the benefits of summer heat and solar radiation from the sea, most of the region’s production is still undistinguished. Abruzzo is particularly known for two varieties, the red Montepulciano and the white trebbiano d’abruzzo. Both varieties have been underachievers, mainly because of ignorance of site specifics and because yields of more than 100 hl/ha are allowed by law. This is not helped by the facts that until recently the entire region was covered by a single doc, Abruzzo, and only 80% of each principal variety is required. But the region has made convincing attempts at improving quality over quantity, doubtless helped by falling bulk wine prices and the vine pull scheme of the eu which has seen total vineyard area decline from 36,000 ha (89,000 acres) to 30,000 ha in the first decade of this century, with half of that dedicated to DOC production. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is generally produced in two styles: a young, quaffing style, robustly fruity and best drunk in its first two years, and a more serious, almost Syrah-like style, where the wildness of the fruit is often tempered by a bit of oak. The huge Abruzzo DOC has been divided into five subzones (Alto Tirino, Casauria, Teate, Terre dei Peligni, and Terre dei Vestini), areas that have traditionally been associated with a finer quality of Montepulciano, plus the tiny DOC Controguerra. Subject to stricter production rules, the subzones’ vine density must be at least 4,000 vines/ha compared with DOC Abruzzo’s 2,500. The subzone system may well be the first step towards an increasing focus on terroir. With a minimum of 95% Montepulciano, three tiny, and potentially exciting, DOCs—Villamagna, Terre Tollesi, and Ortona—share the same tighter rules. The region currently has only one DOCG, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane, which has still to prove its worth, but an important side effect is the concomitant reduction in permitted yields. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was once prized as a blending wine in Italy’s north, Germany, and France, but an increasing amount of more serious examples from single producers, rather than from the omnipresent co-operatives, is bottled than ever before. Once Montepulciano is given full attention in vineyard as well as cellar, some seriously fine and age-worthy wines should result, evidenced by the Montepulciano of Emilio Pepe and Valentini, the latter better known for his fabled long-lived Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Most of Abruzzo’s insipid whites labelled Trebbiano are not made of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo grapes at all, but the bland Trebbiano Toscano. Only if the first law of wine quality, lower yields, is respected, can a realistic assessment of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo’s quality be made.


Abruzzo: General

Underrated region, politically & socially more part of the south.


Abruzzo: Climate and Weather

Warm Mediterranean climate w dry hot summers & precipitations mostly in the winter.


Abruzzo: Typography and Soils

South of Le marche; Mountainous region w hills descending to the Adriatic coastline; Calcareous clay soils


Abruzzo: Montepulciano

Vigorous red grape that ripens late

Deep-coloured w ripe, robust tannins & med acidity


Abruzzo: Other Red Grapes

Cerasuolo (Rosé), Cabernet, Sangiovese


Abruzzo: Trebbiano d' Abruzzo aka Bombino blanco

Ripens late and yields extremely high quantities

Neutral wines


Abruzzo: Viticulture and Winemaking

35,000ha for 21% for DOC wine & 3.5m hl/yr production – Italy’s #7 biggest region

Tendone system & high yields contribute to high volumes but lower quality wines


Abruzzo: Key Appellations and Characteristics

6th DOC producer thanks to generous yields (100hl/ha); 80% of production by cooperatives (e.g. Cantina Tollo)

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – 7,500ha (R)
- DOC covers most of the coast and up the hills from Pescara; min 85%

2 styles: young, robust fruity & best drunk young or deep-coloured w ripe, robust tannins

- Gianni Masciarelli produces 1.1m btls of some the best wines around incl. the Villa Gemma M. d’Abruzzo

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (W)
- Slightly smaller area vs. the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC; made from Bombino grape (not Trebbiano)



Name of a vigorous red grape variety planted on much of central Italy, and the name of a Tuscan town at the centre of the zone producing the highly ranked red wine vino nobile di montepulciano(which is not made from this grape variety). On a 2010 total of 34,824 ha/86,052 acres of vineyard, the grape variety is recommended for 20 of Italy’s 95 provinces but is most widely planted in abruzzo, where it is responsible for the often excellent-value Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, and in the marche, where it is a principal ingredient in such reds as Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno. It is also grown in molise and puglia. At its best, it produces wines that are deep in colour with ripe, robust tannins. Both the colour and the tannins make it a favoured blending ingredient with producers looking to boost their more feeble efforts. Unfortunately, high yields, often abetted by official advice in the 1970s and 1980s that producers should train their vines high, and a tendency to reduction in the wines, have ensured that general quality is not as high as it should be. docg for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane, for Montepulciano grown in the hills in the area around Teramo in the northern part of Abruzzo, came into effect with the 2003 vintage, perhaps an attempt to promote future, rather than to recognize current, quality.
The variety ripens too late to be planted much further north, although Montepulciano has recently shown it can yield dependable quantities of deep-coloured, well-ripened grapes with good levels of alcohol and extract in umbria and the Tuscan maremma. It is sometimes called Cordisco, Morellone, and Uva Abruzzese. A tiny amount is grown in California, Australia, and New Zealand.



After the Valle d’aosta, Italy’s smallest and least populated region, is a mountainous area situated south of abruzzo in the south east of Italy just north of puglia. Impoverished by a continuous emigration of manpower for almost a century, the region has only 5,152 ha/12,730 acres of vineyards of which a mere tenth is devoted to doc wine production. Production is almost entirely in the hands of co-operative wineries, which sell much of the wine in bulk. The proximity of Abruzzo—to which the Molise was joined administratively until the 1960s—has left its mark on Molise’s viticulture: the two predominant vine varieties are montepulciano d’Abruzzo and trebbiano d’Abruzzo. There have been attempts to diversify, however, with the planting of grape varieties from southern Italy, especially neighbouring Campania, such as fiano, greco di tufo, and aglianico. international varieties have also been planted. The region has one overarching DOC, Molise, and three other DOCs within it: Biferno, Pentro d’Isernia, and Tintilla del Molise. While this last is based on one of the very few indigenous varieties of any commercial significance in Molise (and which may only be planted in vineyards of at least 200 m elevation), all other DOCs are catch-all denominations based on Trebbiano Toscano and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and including varietal bottlings, notably of Cabernet Sauvignon and Aglianico. In the past, the best wines of the region, produced by the Di Majo Norante winery, chose the igt route in response to the world’s lack of interest in Molise’s DOCs although today many of their wines, made exclusively from southern Italian varieties, are now bottled as DOC wines, evidence that, however slowly, things are moving forwards for Molise.