Abruzzo is a region on the Adriatic coast of Italy.

DOCGs (1)Colline Teramane Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG (2003).

DOCs (10): Abruzzo DOC. | Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC (formerly Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo DOC or Cerasuolo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC). | Controguerra DOC. | Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. | Ortona DOC. | Terre Tollesi or Tullum DOC. | Trebbiano d’Abruzzo DOC. | Villamagna DOC.

IGTs (2)Colline Pescaresi IGT. | Colline Teatine IGT. | Terre di Chieti IGT.

Ancient wine-growing historyIn central Italy there is fossil evidence of grapevines dating back two million years, but the first traces of agricultural activities oriented to grape cultivation itself date back to the end of the Bronze Age. In Abruzzo, the first evidence of wine production dates to pre-Roman times, and the Iron Age, with funerary pottery unearthed in the monumental cemeteries around L’Aquila. There are then the numerous Roman remains which attest to the spread – and the popularity – of wine, cited in the works of historians and in the verses of poets as well. “Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion”, wrote Ovid, the famous elegiac poet from Sulmona in Abruzzo. Wine from this region is praised in On Agriculture by Marcus Porcius Cato, and even Hannibal, lingering in the Vibrata Valley (Teramo), was seduced by the local wine according to the Greek historian Polybius.

In the contrade (i.e. districts) of Tollo, a town in the province of Chieti, dolia (terracotta containers used for transporting wine) have been found, both intact and in fragments, now preserved in the National Archaeological Museum of Chieti. These wine stores were located at the residence (rural villa), but also buried among the vines in order to retain the characteristics of the location during the transformation of must into wine. Even today it is not unusual to find dolia fragments in the hills around Tollo when preparing the soil for planting new vineyards. 

Terroir: Abruzzo is 65% mountainous and 35% hilly. The majority of Abruzzo’s vineyards (90%) are found in the hilly areas (10% are mountain viticulture), 75% of which are in Chieti province and the remainder in Pescara, Teramo and L’Aquila. The coast to the east overlooks the Adriatic Sea, which has an important temperature-calming effect. The most favorable growing conditions are reportedly found in the low hills of Teramo, the Colline Teramane, which was named a DOCG area.

Soils: Abruzzo soils are very varied, consisting mainly of sandstone, gypsum, and rocks from volcanic ash, with other ares richer in sandstone and clay-limestone soils.

Climate, meso-climate: Many rivers that flow through all the valleys all run into the Adriatic Sea and help create specific microclimates. Overall, the climate is Mediterranean in the area overlooking the sea and continental inland, with little rain on the coast and more abundant inside.

Viticulture: Typical Abruzzo viticulture allows for pergolas or canopied vineyards, where the vines are trained upwards. This style accounts for approximately 80% of the vine-training methods employed.

Grape varieties: Montepulciano is Abruzzo’s main red grape, representing about 50% of the grapevines planted in the region. Trebbiano Abruzzese is also very important and common. Among other withe grapes cultivated in Abruzzo is Pecorino, currently the ‘hottest’ grape not just in the region but in whole peninsula. Luigi Cataldi Madonna has done much to foster knowledge and awareness of the variety and his is one of the best examples of the wine today: lemon drop, sage and rosemary, not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc wine. Abruzzo’s Pecorino wines are usually fresher and brighter than those made in Le Marche, where they tend to macerate the must long on the skins.

Wineries

Certified Biodynamic: Lunaria Orsogna

Certified organic: Cantina Tollo. | Torre Raione

Bibliography

See Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.534.