The Abruzzo region is geographically in the centre of Italy* but is considered to be part of southern Italy for cultural and historical reasons. Grapes are grown throughout all four provinces of this hilly region: L’Aquila, Teramo, Pescara, and Chieti – with the last being the most productive, ranking as the fifth highest wine producing province in Italy.
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is the main white wine of the region and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the main red. At this point I feel duty bound to include the standard remark that the latter is not to be confused with the Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Under DOC regulations Montepulciano d’Abruzzo must be composed of a minimum of 85% Montepulciano with up to 15% Sangiovese for the balance. Standard DOC wines must be aged for a minimum of 5 months prior to release with Riservas requiring 24 months, of which at least 9 months must be in wood barrels.
Although we think of Abruzzo as being the home of Montepulciano, it is in fact used throughout a large swathe of Italy from Emilia-Romagna to Puglia (see left).
It’s success is due to it being relatively easy to grow and producing high yields, yet still plenty of colour from the thin skins. Acidity tends to be moderate and tannins are present but not too harsh.
Here’s a cracking Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which I tried recently:
Disclosure: bottle was kindly provided as a sample, opinions remain my own
Tor del Colle Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2016
Tor del Colle is a label used for wines from Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia, three regions along the Adriatic Coast. The brand is owned by the Botter group who trace their origins to 1928 Venice.
Grapes were fully destemmed and macerated for 7 to 8 days before temperature-controlled alcoholic and malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Maturation is for 12 months in barrels (size & age not given) and 12 months in steel tanks.
The wine pours a bright cherry red, though not that deep. The nose is intensely aromatic with alpine strawberries and cherry, plus cinnamon and other spices in the background. The palate is rich and lithe, full of red and black fruit. It’s a soft and supple wine; tannins are present but ripe.
Due to its ubiquity and relatively low price we are used to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo as a great glugging wine – probably the first wine that springs to mind when we’re asked to suggest a wine to go with pizza. Although it’s not expensive, this wine shows that it can be so much more than that. It retains the fresh flavours, balanced acidity and soft tannins of an everyday Montepulciano d’Abruzzo but adds additional layers of complexity which don’t weigh it down.
This is a lip-smackingly good wine, the best value red wine I’ve had so far this year!
- ABV: 13.5%
- RRP: €17.95
- Stockists: Morton’s, Ranelagh; Listons, Camden Street; Barnhill Stores, Dalkey; La Touche, Greystones; Gleesons, Booterstown; Molloys Liquor Stores; The Old Orchard Off Licence, Rathfarnham
*Just like the Mid-West of the USA is actually in the eastern half of the country**
**No I don’t know why either, ask them!