Thanks to Abruzzo's singular focus on Montepulciano grapes, it is relatively easy to get a handle on the region's wines. Only four are certified.
Controguerra (DOC) wines can be red or white. The reds are typically dry and tannic; they're blended with small amounts of Merlot and Cabernet grapes. The whites combine Trebbiano, Passerino and occasionally Malvasia grapes for a dry, fruity flavor. Whites also come in frizzante and spumante varieties.
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (DOC) is a dry, light, subtle, acidic white. Though most Trebbiano d'Abruzzo uses Tuscan Trebbiano grapes, a few boutique growers use a "true" Abruzzese Trebbiano grape [source: Made in Italy]. Like virtually all Abruzzo wines, the Trebbiano has excellent fruity flavors.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (DOC), a red, is a good option for those who want a solid Abruzzo wine, on any budget. The Quattro Mani (a mere $8 a bottle) "shows a sense of place [and] is high in quality" [source: Kinsiees]. A high-end organic Emidio Pepe (more than $200 a bottle) is "like drinking velvet" [source: Newlands]. "The fact of the matter," says reviewer Loren Sonkin, "is I have never tasted a poor Montepulciano d'Abruzzo." The intimidating-looking name is pronounced mohn-teh-pool-CHAH-no.
Wine Review calls the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane (DOCG) "Abruzzo's gem...the best of the best." It is a generous red, with round notes of fresh cherry and plum. Tannin keeps it from being overwhelmingly sweet. Most Colline Teramane is aged in oak, and acquires flavors of spice and smoke. Colline Teramane wines are often described as "earthy," "masculine" or "muscular," and they're best paired with food rather than sipped on their own [source: Franz].
Keep an eye out for "riserva" or "superiore" designations, which mean you're getting 100 percent Montepulciano grapes, with no blending. You'll pay more, but it may be worth it.
If you'd like to experiment with an unclassified Abruzzese wine, try the Moscato, or the dry Angelo Bianco or Angelo Rosso. And don't forget a big wedge of pecorino. Salute!
To learn more about regional wines and related topics, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
More Great Links
- "Abruzzo." Wine Country. (Accessed 1/21/09)http://www.winecountry.it/regions/abruzzo/index.html
- "Cantina Tolla is awarded with Decanter's International Trophy." Cantina Tolla. September 2008. (Accessed 1/21/09)http://www.cantinatollo.it/English/News_21.htm
- "Controguerra Italian Wine." Italian Wines Center. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.italianwinescenter.com/italian-wine/Controguerra.html
- Cooke, Jo. "An Abruzzo Pioneer Dies." Wine Spectator. August 7, 2008. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Features/0,1197,4530,00.html
- Ellsworth, James. "Abruzzo's Terroirs Herald Italian Wine Revival." Suite 101. December 23, 2008. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://italian-wine.suite101.com/article.cfm/abruzzo_wines_opt_for_quality_and_revival
- "Food and Wine Pairing." EncycloWine. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.encyclowine.org/?title=Food_and_wine_pairing
- Franz, Michael. "Colline Teramane: Abruzzo's Gem." Wine Review Online. July 11, 2006. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.winereviewonline.com/Franz_on_Abruzzo.cfm
- Hanson, Carl. "Italian Wine Country, Abruzzi to Sicily." All Recipes. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://allrecipes.com/HowTo/Italian-Wine-Country-Abruzzi-to-Sicily/Detail.aspx
- Kinsiees, Richard. "Wine Pick of the Week: 2005 Quattro Mani Montepulciano d'Abruzzo." Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 24, 2007. (Accessed 1/21/09)http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/312941_winepick25.html
- "Lasorda: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC 2006." Casa Torelli. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.casatorelli.com/product39.html
- Newlands, Roddy. "Life in Abruzzo." (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.lifeinabruzzo.com/guide/abruzzo-sightseeing-tours-roadtrips/vineyards/trebbiano-dabruzzo-by-emidio-pepe-a-fine-wine-enjoyed-by-the-g8/
- Reiss, Levi. "Italian Wine and Food: The Abruzzi Region." October 27, 2006. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.articleclick.com/Article/I-Love-Italian-Wine-and-Food---The-Abruzzi-Region/94
- Sonkin, Loren. "Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: A Wonderful Red Wine from the Region of Abruzzo." Into Wine. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.intowine.com/montepulciano-d-abruzzo-wonderful-red-wine-region-abruzzo
- "The Tastes of Tradition." Consortium for the Protection of Abruzzo Wines. (Accessed 1/22/09)http://www.abruzzowine.it/e-Sapori.htm
- "The Territory." Consortium for the Protection of Abruzzo Wines. (Accessed 1/21/09)http://www.abruzzowine.it/e-territorio.htm
- "Winebow presents Italian wine regions." Winebow. (Accessed 1/21/09)http://www.winebow.com/wine_regioninfo.asp?region=14
- "Wine and Food -- Wine Regions -- Abruzzo." Made in Italy. (Accessed 1/21/09)http://www.made-in-italy.com/winefood/wine/regions/abruzzo.htm
- Winkler, Albert Julius. General Viticulture. University of California Press. (Accessed through Google Books, 1/22/09)http://books.google.com/books?id=yrQUAdwSJCwC&pg=PA263&lpg=PA263&dq=pergola+viticulture&source=web&ots=_A4Dt87ZFX&sig=UYaRVPb8nlhCbgeTEN28W6Laggs&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=1&ct=result#PPA263,M1