Trebbiano Abruzzese | Native Italian grape variety, often misidentified grape. The correct name of grape is Trebbiano Abruzzese while Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC is the name of its best known incarnation, a still, dry white wine.
Groupies | Ian D’Agata (2019, p310-311) describes Trebbiano Abruzzese as Italy’s most interesting Trebbiano group member along with Trebbiano Spoletino. D’Agata cites research by Labra et al. (published in 2001) which demonstrated that these two members of the Trebbiano group are the only two to be ‘somewhat related’ to each other.
Poor reputation | Trebbiano Abruzzese’s reputation for poor quality was a result of it being confused with other, lower quality grapes (Mostosa, Bombino Bianco and even Trebbiano Toscano). This mis-identity had a negative impact on key viticultural choices (eg. site selection, rootstocks). D’Agata (2019, p310-311) cites Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo as one of Italy’s most renowned white wines, adding another in the form of Tiberio’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Fonte Canale. Bombino Bianco, long considered a synonym of Trebbiano Abruzzese, has now been confirmed as a distinct variety.
Viticulture | Trebbiano Abruzzese may be a minority in the vineyard, where it is often confused with Trebbiano Toscano, Bombino Bianco and Passerina (hence 100% Trebbiano Abruzzese wines are rare). Unlike most other Trebbianos, the grapes of Trebbiano Abruzzese remain deep straw green even when ripe. It is a late ripener, like all the members of the Trebbiano group, and its acidity drops fast when maturity is reached. Harvesting at precisely the right moment is key.
Biotypes | D’Agata (2019, p310-311) cites two biotypes of Trebbiano d’Abruzzese called Sbaganina and Svaganina. The Sbaganina biotype, which is typical of the Vasto area, has a medium-large bunch, very thin-skinned berries, and up to three wings, says D’Agata, who adds that the Svagarina biotype is more typical of the Marruccina area, with a larger bunch, thicker skins, and usually two wings.
Viticulture, winemaking | Trebbiano is vigorous, susceptible to powdery mildew (oidium) and performs poorly on excessively windy sites (D’Agata, 2019, p310-311). Its preferred terroir differs to that of the (red wine) Montepulciano grape. The latter prefers relatively cooler (inland) areas which promote the long hang times needed for pip ripeness. Trebbiano Abruzzese is happier in the ‘gently rolling hills’ closer to the Adriatic coast in areas such as such as Causaria and Loreto Aprutino which have more sunlight and less humidity (D’Agata (2019, p310-311).
Winemaking | Trebbiano Abruzzese is a late ripener (a trait typical of the Trebbiano group). Although Trebbiano d’Abruzzese’s acidity can be very high, levels can drop very quickly if the grapes over-ripen (D’Agata, 2019, p310-311). Trebbiano Abruzzese also has high concentration of polyphenols which means the juice can oxide easily (D’Agata, 2019, p310-311). Combatting this risk with reductive winemaking risks creating a wine that is more reminiscent of Sauvignon Blanc.
Wine style | 100% Trebbiano Abruzzese wines are said to be rare, given that other varieties now known to be distinct from Trebbiano Abruzzese (eg. Bombino Bianco, Trebbiano Toscano) may still be present in Trebbiano Abbruzzese vineyards. Colour: Pale straw lemon colour. | Flavours, texture: Lemon, (white) peach. D’Agata (2019, p310-311) says at its best Trebbiano Abbruzzese shows ‘crystalline acidity’ and the following flavours: apple orchard fruits, white flowers and mint. | Texture | Dense with plenty of acidity and savoury fruit. D’Agata (2019, p310-311) cites a ‘honeyed mouthfeel, a pure mineral edge, and at times a resemblance to Chablis. Also very ageworthy.’ High praise indeed.
Benchmark wines | Benchmark Trebbiano Abruzzese wines are said to be Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC and Tiberio’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC Fonte Canale. | See D’Agata (2019, p311).
Dr Ian d’Agata, Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017). p71-72.