Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is one of America's most popular Italian imports. Abruzzo is somewhat south of the halfway point of Italy's east coast, bordered by Marches to the north and Molise to the south and the Appenine Mountains to the west. 65% of Abruzzo is mountainous, actually consisting of foothills of the Appenines where some of the best vineyards lie. Those vineyards continue eastward to within a few miles of the Adriatic Sea. Rome, by the way, lies due west of Abruzzo.
Abruzzo is composed of four provinces; L'Aquila, the largest province where much of the subtle Cerasuolo Rose originates; Chieti, the southeastern province where much vibrant Trebbiano is grown; and Pescara and Teramo, the two northernmost provinces where the finest Montepulciano is produced. Abruzzo received its DOC in 1968 and the Colline Teramo was carved out of the appellation in 1995 and awarded DOCG status in 2003.
Montepulciano is the primary red grape of Abruzzo with the legal blend mandating at least 85% Montepulciano with up to 15% Sangiovese or other red grapes. In Colline Teramo the blend must be 90% Montepulciano to 10% Sangiovese. The white wine of Abruzzo must be 85% Trebbiano and that may include either of two types of that grape with the remainder being local varieties, Passerina and/or Cococciola.
Whenever one looks at european viticulture, one must examine the historical perspective and the Montepulciano and Trebbiano grapes are known to have been cultivated in Abruzzo for centuries. Also helpful would be an examination of the people who live in Abruzzo and they are by and large working class farmers who have labored for centuries producing wines, cheeses, vegetables (tomatos, peppers), and livestock (pigs and sheep). The ethos of these people would have to focus on hard work leading to self-sufficiency. If this definition of the people means the wine is peasant wine, count me as one of them.
Stop in to pick up a bottle of Montepulciano or Trebbiano and mention this blog for a 20% discount on Manchego which might be the best cheese accompaniment for your wine. This article will continue in installments.