Being from Abruzzo
I may be biased, but I believe wines from my region deserve a second chance. I remember when I first arrived in the UK, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo were on every restaurant’s wine list, mainly as a house wine - with a very few exceptions - and mostly from one of the many local wine cooperatives. At the time, there were very few good producers and the majority of growers were selling their grapes to the cooperatives, easier than bottling and selling the wine.
And, as you would expect from a house wine, at least the majority, the wines were of poor quality, just about drinkable, I guess one of the many positives of Abruzzo’s wines, in particular of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, is that even when badly made, they can still be drunk compared to many other wines. The fame, if being a house wine for thousands of restaurants can be considered an honour, did not last long. A few years and they were replaced by the Nero d’Avola and Grillo, that have now been replaced as well and would be the current wines, it is a cycle, their quality had gone down to fulfil the demand and the price. Nowadays, the wines still carry the stigma from those days. On top of that, due to the lack of knowledge, the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is often confused with the Tuscan Montepulciano, the Nobile di Montepulciano.
Luckily for the region and the wines, plenty of new producers started to bottle their wines instead of selling the grapes to the cooperatives, a new generation and a different approach and philosophy has taken over. Quality over quantity, low yields, wine made in the vineyards. If it is true what they say that wineries from all over Italy used to come to Abruzzo to buy the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to add to their wines, it must mean something. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, unofficially and against the law, it was often included in blends to make up for the others grape’s deficiencies. The Montepulciano grape has all traits a wine maker wishes to create a masterpiece, except the name, and there are not many grapes this can be said of.
Not only Montepulciano grapes when properly vinified, the work is done in the vineyards before the winery, can produce outstanding wines but even a simple, unaged, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can be one of the most versatile and pleasant wines. But Abruzzo is not only Montepulciano d’Abruzzo in its different appellations
(DOC and DOCG) but also Trebbiano and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and in the last few years, Pecorino, a grape that is now widely planted and it has almost overtaken the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo as the “Abruzzo’s white wine”, not least because of the bad reputation the Trebbiano carries with it.
But Abruzzo is also Cerasuolo, a rose’ wine made Montepulciano grapes. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is not your usual rose’, it is a rose’ wine with much more than a fruity nose, it is slightly tannic, full, important, a rose’ wine that begs for food, the Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a wine to accompany lunches and dinners, perfect to accompany Abruzzo’s typical dishes, from fish soup to medium aged cheeses, from grilled meat to charcuterie, a wine to pair more than a wine to drink in the garden on a sunny day.
Abruzzo’s wines deserve a second chance, whether you never tasted them or had a bad experience with one of the many cheap versions, try again and you will be amazed.