Discover the Iconic wines from Abruzzo - Vini d’Abruzzo On Tour20-02-2023
Have you ever heard of Abruzzo, the beautiful Italian region full of stunning landscapes and iconic wines? If not, then you are in for a treat! Recently, I had the chance to attend an incredible masterclass organized by the Consorzio Vini d’Abruzzo (Consortium for the Protection of Wines of Abruzzo) and held by Fred Nijhuis, a renowned wine expert, to discover the renowned wines of Abruzzo. In this blog, I will share my experience and provide an in-depth look at the wines of Abruzzo and their production process.
Introduction to the Abruzzo Region and its Wines
Abruzzo is one of Italy's most unique regions. It is in the middle of the country, between the Adriatic and the Apennines. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, one of Italy's most renowned wines, is produced here. In addition to its beautiful scenery, Abruzzo is a great place to visit if you want to try real Italian food. One of the best-known Italian wines is Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, made from the locally cultivated red grape variety of the same name. Its robust flavor pairs nicely with the regional specialties of Abruzzo, where this grape has become well known. Like Chianti, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has a long and interesting history that has changed over time thanks to the unique soil and winemaking methods of the area.
I was thrilled to be able to attend Fred Nijhuis's seminar on the wines of Abruzzo. Fred is an expert and passionate wine lover who knows a lot about Italian wines and the history and methods of making Italian wine.
Masterclass: An in-depth look
The masterclass was a real workshop and a comprehensive introduction to the wines of Abruzzo, covering everything from their background to their methods of production. We started off with Fred giving us a quick rundown on the area, the terroir, and the winemaking methods. It was quite interesting to learn how wines from this area of Italy varied from those produced in other parts of Italy. There are vast variations in wine styles produced from the same grape due to the wide range of microclimates.
Afterwards, we dove into the background of one of Abruzzo's most recognizable wines, the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. We got the lowdown on how this grape evolved from its ancient beginnings to become a staple of Italian wine culture.
The masterclass then turned to the complicated steps of making Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which include picking the grapes, letting them ferment, and letting the wine age. The entire procedure, from harvesting to bottling, was explained to us in great detail. This was a great chance to find out more about what makes Abruzzo wine special.
The wines during the masterclass.
Seven red wines were served, all of which were 100% Montepulciano. The aging potential of this grape was clear from its early, fruity state to its more mature, complex form. This red wine from the same region, despite being made entirely of Montepulciano, showed us how much variation is possible because of the diverse microclimates and vinification techniques used during the aging process. For me, it was really mind-blowing.
The Macairelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Riserva Marina Cvetic 2019 had aromas of cherry, vanilla, tobacco, and oak and was one of my favorite wines. You can taste bright cherry fruit, a hint of liquorice, a moderate amount of acidity, and moderate tannins. Everything was full to excess but balanced in a good way.
My other favorite was the Vigneti Radica, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. Vigneti Radica 2014, a little aged but still young and fresh, is especially good if you know that 2014 was a very bad year for wine. This one was very special because it was pure fruit. On the nose: red flowers, violets, leather, tobacco, and fresh and ripe red fruits. On the palate, there are lots of dried cherries, fresh strawberries, raspberries, and leather with medium (+) acidity and medium (++) tannins.
The ultimate treat was Stefania Pepe Azienda Agri Bio Vitivinicola 2003 (!!!). The flavor was out of this world. It was a rich brick red in color, with aromas of cherry, blackberry, and balsamic. There's a lot of ripe fruit, raisins, and dried plums on the palate, and it's nicely balanced, exquisite, round, and yet quite fresh. This wine has medium (+) acidity and medium tannins, as well as a really impressive level of complexity and structure. I really appreciate that you sent this wonderful wine, Stefania.
A Brief History of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
The Abruzzo area of Italy is home to the centuries-old grape variety Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which has been produced there since the days of the Roman Empire. The wine has developed over the years to become one of the most well-liked Italian wines, and it is currently made in a number of different types.
The village of Montepulciano in Abruzzo provided the inspiration for the grape's name. Because of its robust flavor and aroma, this grape variety is frequently blended with others to create novel wines. The intense acidity and robust tannins found in Montepulciano d'Abruzzo make it a versatile wine.
The Evolution of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
Over time, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has become one of Italy's most well-known wines. Over the years, winemakers have tried mixing this grape with others, like Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, to make new and interesting flavors. In order to meet DOC standards, a wine must contain at least 85% Montepulciano.
Late in the nineteenth century, winemakers in Abruzzo began experimenting with different aging techniques in an effort to impart greater complexity to their products. The result is a rare wine called Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva, which is aged for at least two years in oak. This Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is better after it has been aged for at least five years, when its rich flavors and smells have had time to develop. Recently, winemakers in Abruzzo have started experimenting with carbonic maceration and blending grapes from other regions to make wines with more depth and character.. This has allowed vintners to produce some exceptional and delectable wines.
The Wines of Abruzzo
There are many different kinds of wines made in the Abruzzo region, both dry and sweet. Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo are two of the most well-known wines produced there. The most exciting new wine is the Pecorino d'Abruzzo, due to its tangy, crisp, fresh structure that goes well with food.
The dark fruit, peppery, and herbal aspects that characterize Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines are what make them so well-loved. These wines go wonderfully with a wide range of foods, from those including red meat to those built around tomatoes.
The Trebbiano d'Abruzzo grape makes wines that smell like flowers and taste crisp and clean. You can enjoy these wines on their own or pair them with seafood and salads.
The production process of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo production method was also examined in detail during the masterclass. Selecting grapes, fermenting, and maturing all play crucial roles in this highly intricate process.
Grape selection is the first step in making wine. There are strict requirements for the grapes' quality and maturity before they may be used in the winemaking process. The grapes are picked after they have been carefully evaluated, and then they are taken to the winery.
The grapes' sugar is then converted into alcohol through a process called fermentation. Fermentation is monitored and managed with precision. This is crucial for the full maturation of the wine's aromas and tastes.
The last step in making wine is letting it age, which gives the finished product more depth of flavor and complexity. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines benefit from additional flavor and depth when aged in oak barrels.
The tasting after the masterclass with Trebbiano, Pecorino and Montepulciano
After the masterclass, we got to try a variety of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines and the special white wines made with Trebbiano and Pecorino.
There were 18 winemakers present, with a great selection of their wines.
It was a great example of the unique and interesting wines that can be created by blending different grape varieties.
What stood out to me during the tasting (Jeroen Vonk)
Here are some of my highlights from the tasting. I began with tasting all the white wines, and after that I switched to red, and sometimes there was a rose also.
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC Casanova 2021: Nicely dry with floral notes.
Controguerra DOC Pecorino Casanova 2021 Salty, floral, exotic fruits, and a little bitterness were very nice. The ideal summer companion with light food
Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo DOC Casanova 2021 A rose like no other, with light, young, and lovely tannins and a medium acidity to enjoy cold.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Casanova 2021 is made with a selection of the best grapes from their best vineyard, which is located on the south side. Despite the fact that it is very young (2021), you don't feel it. It is fresh and smooth, smooth with nice combination of fruits and vanilla
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Riserva Vigna Le Coste 2017 Super! perfect balance and rich in fruit, a little balsamic, dried cherries, and plums. really stood out.
Biodynamic natural wine spontaneous fermentation without skin maceration and with no addition of sulfites or other additives Aging in vitrified concrete tanks The wine is not fined or filtered; small amounts of sulfites are added before bottling. I really hope I can buy this wine soon in the Netherlands!
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC Bossanova 2021: floral notes that are fresh and juicy, typical Trebbiano notes, and medium (+) acidity.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC 2021: Perfect! Full of pure fruit and the great representation of Montepulciano, this natural wine is smooth and silky with a natural feeling that makes you feel good.
Pecorino di Abruzzo DOC Castello di Semivicoli 2022: lively with aromatic notes from balsamic, sage, and thyme, as well as citrus notes of pink grapefruit and lime. Very special!
IGT Terre di Chieti Rosso Castello di Semivicoli 2018: This is not a DOC but an IGT wine because of the blend of the grapes (Merlot, Cabernet, and Montepulciano). This is not determined by the regulation but by the quality of the grapes. In this way, you get the best wine, but not always the 85% minimum of Montepulciano for the DOC. very aromatic with raspberry, plum, and spices. On the palate, there is full, round, and structured red fruit with smooth medium (+) tannins and medium (+) acidity.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Riserva Marina Cvetic 2019: A fresh body with ripe red fruit, fine medium (+) tannins, and medium acidity.
Vineyards are located in a nature reserve, making organic farming mandatory and strictly controlled.
Superiore Collecivetta DOP Pecorino d'Abruzzo 2022: Aromas and flavors of light fruit and flowers, with a touch of pleasant acidity. This wine showcases why Pecorino is becoming more and more popular.
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOP Superiore Testarossa 2021: With aromatic sage and thyme, fruit like pears and citrus, and medium (+) acidity, this wine is pure freshness.
Fonte Romana Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2021: Smooth tannins, acidity, fruit body, and spices make this a very easy ride with no complexity.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Testarossa 2019 is very nicely structured, and you can taste the history of the wine. great combination of spices, tannins, acidity, and red fruit. A little complicated, but a truly elegant companion.
In general, Fred Nijhuis' masterclass on the wines of Abruzzo was a lot of fun. It was a great chance to learn about the history and production processes of the region's iconic wines and to taste some truly unique and delicious wines. If you're a fan of Italian wines, then I highly recommend trying the wines of Abruzzo and experiencing them yourself. The best-kept secret is that these wines offer great value for money.
More information about Fred Nijhuis: www.fred-nijhuis.nl
More information about Consorzio Vini d’Abruzzo: www.vinidabruzzo.it