Molise is the youngest of Italy’s 20 administrative regions. Until 1963, Molise formed part of the region of Abruzzi e Molise, along with Abruzzo. The split became effective in 1970. Molise is a mountainous region with a stretch of coastline on the Adriatic Sea. It encompasses part of the National Park of Abruzzo in the Apennines mountain range, with rich wildlife and trails. The regional capital, Campobasso, is known for its mountaintop Monforte Castle and Romanesque churches. To the north is the Pietrabbondante archaeological area with an ancient Samnite theater and temple.
Wine production: There is little historical information on the production of wine in Molise during the antiquity. Information dating back to 1871 mentions Molise as an area of important wine production. Molise’s first DOC came in 1983 with the creation of Biferno (white and red) in the province of Campobasso, and Pentro DOC in the province of Isernia. Of the (now) four regional DOCs, two–Tintilia del Molise DOC and Molise DOC–cover the entire regional area. The other regional DOCs have few producers declaring wines. In the region there are also two IGTs, the Osco or Terra degli Osci and Rotae IGT, the first located in the province of Campobasso, the second in that of Isernia.
Vineyard area: 8,000 hectares (smaller than Saint-Emilion AOC in Bordeaux), mainly in Campobasso province.
Terroir: Molise is a small region, mostly hilly (45%) and mountainous (50%) with vineyards located in hilly and mountainous areas. The soil is Quaternary in origin, clay and sand based, reddish yellow colored, at times with a significant iron content. Hillside soils generally have a high percentage of clay that makes them have a grayish colour. The most fertile lands are located along the main river of the region, the Biferno.
Climate: The climate is Mediterranean in the coastal area and colder and continental inside and towards the mountains.
Viticulture: The traditional “tendone,” literally tent, or canopy growing system is disappearing (despite climate change) in favour of vertically shoot positioned spurred cordon systems.
Wine styles: Molise’s most interesting wines are reds made with the indigenous Tintilia variety (Tintilia Molise DOC).
Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014), p.xiv-xv.
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.542.