Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy

Located southeast of Tuscany along the Adriatic Sea, the mountainous province of Abruzzi is one of the largest wine production regions in Italy. The most famous example from the area is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a hearty red sipper known for its deep flavors, structure, and balance.

As the mainstay of the special Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), this special red wine is made with the Montepulciano grape, a unique variety grown in different areas in Central Italy. In Abruzzi, most of the vineyards are located on the high elevation slopes of the Aprennines foothills which receive plenty of sun during the day, as well as solar reflections and breezes from the nearby sea.

Within the borders of the DOC, some of the most prized wines are now coming from the small vineyards in the Colline Termane DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), which is located in the hills of the Teramo province.

Once picked and fermented, the wines are typically aged in oak barrels or larger barriques in order to smoothe out rough edges of the flavors before bottling. The softer and fruitier styles drink best when they are young, while the more complex wines and reserva (reserve) styles are worthy of aging.

Grape Expectations: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy

Whites: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (Bombino Bianco), Pecorino, Chardonnay.

Reds: Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Merlot.

Taste Sensations: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy

White Wines:  Known for their floral aromas and light golden hue, white wines made with Pecorino grapes are naturally spicy with lively notes of fresh ginger, coconut, vanilla, ripe peach, melon, mineral, and a hint of sea salt on the finish. Although the regular Trebbiano wines made in Central Italy are typically rich and viscous; the unique style of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is lean and crispy with vibrant notes of melon, grapefruit and mineral. Same is true with Chardonnay from the region, which is usually aged stainless steel or minimal amounts of oak in order to showcase the natural flavors of apple, pear, and citrus the grape has to offer.

Red Wines: In general, the Montapulciano d’Abruzzo wines are smooth, silky, and supple. Some are more peppery, spicy, and rustic; while others are bolder and more tannic. In terms of flavors, the tastiest examples pack plenty of fruit, particularly raspberry, cherry, plum, earthy tones, and long, vibrant finish.  The Montapulciano grapes are also used to make dry pink wines called Cerasuolo by locals, which feature lively flavors of ripe strawberry, red cherry, watermelon, and citrus.

Food Pairings: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Italy

With white wines, try tangy cheeses, shellfish, seafood, salads, pasta dishes with white sauce and capers, and pork with fruit chutney. The refreshing pink Cerasuolo wines are great with fresh oysters, tuna tartare, beef carpaccio, beet salad, and Panini sandwiches. For red wines, try grilled seafood, vegetable lasagna, spaghetti with olives and peperoncino, roasted chicken with herbs, sweet and sour pork, tri-tip, and hearty stews.