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 and mostly from one of the many wine cooperatives we have in Abruzzo - with a very few exceptions. At the time, there were very few good producers and the majority of growers were selling their grapes to the cooperatives, easier than bottling the wine.
And as you would expect from a house wine, the wines were just drinkable, their quality was low, 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 are still drinkable compared to many other grapes and wines. The fame, if being a house wine for thousands of restaurants across the country can be considered an honour, did not last long. A few years, and they were replaced by the Nero d’Avola and Grillo, as often happen, their quality had gone down and down to fulfil the demand and the wines slowly disappeared. Nowadays, the wines still carry the stigma from those days and 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 local cooperatives, a new generation and a different approach and philosophy took over. Quality over quantity, low yield, 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, officially or non, it was often included in blends to make up for the others grape’s deficiencies. The Montepulciano grape has everything a wine maker wishes to create a masterpiece, except a name, and there are not many grapes this can be said of.
Not only Montepulciano grapes when properly vinified, keeping a low yield and working in the vineyards, can produce outstanding wines and now there are several, but even a simple, unaged, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo can be one of the most versatile wines. But Abruzzo is not only Montepulciano in its different appellations
(DOC and DOCG) but also Trebbiano and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo and in the last few years, Pecorino, a grape that has settle down in Abruzzo and it has almost overtaken the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo as the “Abruzzo 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, it asks for food, it begs for food, the Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a rose’ to accompany lunches and dinners, perfect to accompany Abruzzo 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.