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Abruzzo Native Vines – Second Part
Rosa D'Ancona – December 1, 2005



Native White Vines

Trebbiano Abruzzese and Trebbiano Toscano
Though it is not a historic certainty, it is believed that the Trebbiano vine has been grown in the central regions of Italy since Roman times. In fact, Plinio describes a 'Vinum Trebulanum', whose name, according to Professor Franco Cercone, derives from trebula, which means house complex, or ranch, and it is not known if the definition was used for the vine as well. However, the word Trebbiano in general used to define a white local wine, which these days we would define as 'paesano' ('from the village') or 'casereccio' ('home made'), produced in various villages and country hamlets and drunk by the peasants. On the other hand, Professor Mariano Corino, who translated Bacci's De Naturali Vinorum Historia de Vinis Italiae (Natural History of Wines from Italian Vines) from Latin to Italian, often mentions a Trebulano wine made in Trebula, the town known today as Treglia, in the Campania region.

Historic mentions of the Trebbiano grape in Abruzzo date as far back as the 1550s and is recorded in an 1856 Raffaele Sersante monograph, in which he mentions how this variety was widely cultivated and well known as 'uva passa' ('semi-dried grape'), and not exclusively in rural communities".

Currently many Italian vine clones are known as Trebbiano, often followed by a geographic name that indicates either the place of origin or where it is most widely cultivated. Trying to describe the differences between the various clones, however, is a hard task. In fact, for long time the Trebbiano Abruzzese has been mistaken for the Bombino Bianco, so much so that the official denomination of the grapes that go into the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo wine, to this day reads that it must be "made with grapes from Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (Bombino Bianco) and /or Trebbiano Toscano vineyards ...".

  Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
  Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
  Passerina
  Passerina
  Montonico Bianco
  Montonico Bianco
  Cococciola
  Cococciola
  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
   

The Trebbiano Abruzzese was registered in the Italian National Wine Variety Catalog in 1994 (D.M. 24.11.1994), and, as Giancarlo Moretti wrote in his book Il Trebbiano d'Abruzzo, has characteristics similar to the Biancame, un biotype of the Trebbiano Toscano vine. The about 14,000 hectares (slightly fewer than 34,600 acres) of regional vineyards ) produce pyramid-shaped, compact bunches with more or less developed 'wings'. The vine blooms rather late, and the fruit matures late, becoming usually ready for harvest between the 20th of September and the 10th of October.

The wine is straw yellow, more or less intense, with light green highlights. The perfume of fruits and flowers with bitter almond finish is rather persistent. Perfumes and flavor are greatly improved when the wine is refined either in small wooden barrels or larger wood vats.

Passerina
Part of the Trebbiano family, the Passerina is considered a vine native of Central Italy. Cultivated in small vineyards, especially in the Marche and Abruzzo regions, this grape is known also as Trebbiano Campolese, or Camplese, in the provinces of Teramo and Aquila, Trebbiano Scenciato in the province of Chieti, and Trebbiano Dorato in the province of Pescara. The bunch is medium sized, winged, with widely-spaced berries. The maturation is medium-late, and is characterized by slow accumulation of sugars without a proportional loss of acidity. The Passerina vine is resistant to the common and major illnesses, including botrytis, and usually provides good yields. The wine is straw yellow with greenish and golden highlights, fruit, flower and spice aromas, with citrus and dried vegetables nuances, pleasantly intense and persistent; good acidity, with slightly bitter finish and good structure.

Pecorino
Another Trebbiano family vine of uncertain origin, the Pecorino has been grown for centuries in the central regions of Italy, especially Marche and Abruzzo, where it is known also with different denominations. The bunch is medium sized, long, cylindrical- or pyramid-shaped, often with wings, with widely spaced berries. The maturation is medium-early, preceding slightly the Trebbiano Toscano, and is usually harvested in mid September, producing good yield per acre. As a varietal, it produces a typical straw yellow wine with light golden and green highlights; with medium intense and persistent perfume of flowers and fruits, in particular of apples, banana and spices. Medium acidity, slight bitterness and good structure.

Montonico Bianco
The Montonico grape has been grown in Abruzzo at least since the mid 19th century, especially in the municipalities of Montonico di Bisenti and Poggio delle Rose in the province of Teramo. The bunch is big, long and compact, either cylindrical or pyramid-shaped. Though it ripens lately, reaching full maturity around the second decade of October, its harvest period changes according to the kind of wine it is intended for, in fact, it is harvested early when the must is used as a base for spumante (sparkling) wines, thus preserving its acidity. This vine thrives in cool, tempered environments with low fertility soil. The wines produced with this grape have a more or less deep yellow color, sometimes with greenish highlights, low alcohol content, light fragrance of fruits and spices, are slightly astringent and have good structure.

Cococciola
This native vine is cultivated mostly in the municipalities of Vacri, Ari and Rocca San Giovanni, in the province of Chieti, and it's rarely found in other regional wine zones. It's used mostly in blends with other grape varieties, especially Trebbiano. The bunch is big, often winged and irregular, compact, and ripens late in the season, around the first part of October. The wines are light straw yellow in color and have medium structure, with high acidity that lasts for long time with a typical light grassy, persistent aroma.

Native Red Vines

Montepulciano
The first historic report of the Montepulciano grape in Abruzzo is found in 1793's King Ferdinand the Fourth archivist and librarian, Michele Torcia, book Saggio Itinerario Nazionale pel Paese dei Peligni (National Itinerary in the Peligni Country). During his 1792 journey, Torcia was introduced to the Montepulciano vine and tasted the wine made with it in the Sulmona countryside. How the vine arrived to Sulmona is unknown, however, according to historian and researcher, Professor Franco Cercone, most probably it was brought over from the Montepulciano municipality, in Tuscany, where it was known as Prugnolo, but the name was immediately changed into Montepulciano, as at the time often wines and vines were named after their place of origins.

What matters, however, is that during the beginning of the 19th century the the Montepulciano grew in perfect isolation in the Conca Peligna area of Abruzzo, where it evolved and become a grape with unique characteristics and personality. In fact, Panfilo Serafini, a Sulmona historian (1817-1864) writes in his Monografia Storica di Sulmona (Sulmona Historic Monograph), published in 1854 in Naples' Il Regno delle Due Sicilie Scritto ed Illustrato (The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Written and Illustrated): "The most common vine is the Montepulciano, harvested either when just ripen, or harvested late ..."

The Montepulciano grape has then been cultivated in Abruzzo for over two centuries. Thanks to the peculiar regional microclimate, the vine found a particularly good environment, in which the grape produces great full-bodied, robust wines which are at the same time elegant and pleasantly perfumed. Thus the Montepulciano can be considered an Abruzzo native vine, and currently accounts for around 50% of the regional vineyard, that is, about 18,000 hectares (about 44,500 acres).

It is a medium strength red vine, with medium-large five-pointed leaves, compact, conic pyramid-shaped bunch, often with wings, slightly ovoid berries with consistent skin. It's a late-ripening grape which is usually ready for harvest during mid October. The Montepulciano wine is usually ruby-red with purple highlights and perfume of violet, cherry, wild berries, licorice and tobacco. Though it is good drunk young, is a wine that ages gracefully in bottles.

Outstanding Producers of DOC Wines

Label: Montepulciano D'Abruzzo Colline Teramane

Label: Controguerra Rosso Lumen

Label: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo Marina Cvetic

Label: Trebbiano D'Abruzzo Aldiano



 
 
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