The Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo, a consortium of wineries that protect and promote the wines of the Abruzzo region of Italy, recently kicked off a three-stop seminar and tasting series in North America.
The Consorzio is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, and what better time to kick off a campaign to increase the awareness of Abruzzo wines. The first stop on the tour was held at The Parador in Houston, with subsequent stops in Boston and Ontario. The event consisted of a seminar on the region of Abruzzo and its wines, lunch, and a walk-around tasting.
Italian wine and food historian Jeremy Parzen led the seminar along with a great group of Abruzzo wine experts. We tasted our way through eight Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, the most well known and most produced of Abruzzo wines. I did find the collection of wines in the tasting very interesting. One might think that tasting eight wines of all the same grape variety might become monotonous, but this definitely wasn’t the case. I was able to really get a feel of the impact of the winemaking process and how these wines age over time. Vintages ranged from 2017 all the way back to 1999. There was a fairly wide range of body, acidity, and flavor profiles across the wines. I was surprised to see the number of wineries using stainless and cement vessels for aging, sometimes in addition to oak aging, and others passing on oak all together.
Osvaldo Pascolini, Italian wine expert, Certified Sommelier, and geologist, gave a fascinating talk about the region of Abruzzo and how its geography and climate make it a special place to make wine. Abruzzo is located in central Italy on the east coast. Think of the location of Rome, then go all the way east and a little north to the Adriatic Sea. Its topography goes from the coast of the Adriatic and quickly into hill and mountains. This topography gives not only ventilating breezes but elevation for strong diurnal temperature shifts. This day to night temperature drop is one of the ways grapes can maintain their acidity while having a longer time on the vine to mature. The ventilating breezes help reduce the chance of mold and mildew diseases. Abruzzo also has a wide array of soil types, giving almost vineyard to vineyard differences that can impact the characteristics of the grapes. Osvaldo’s points on the importance of the sense of place stuck with me. He stated that if your wines take your customers to a place, your customers will take your wines home. We see how long-established wine regions embrace their place, and this is a value we’re seeing embraced more throughout Texas wines.
After the seminar we enjoyed lunch, loading up on Italian meats and cheeses. We then explored the walk around tasting. Representatives from over a dozen Abruzzo wineries were present to share their wines and information about their wineries. While the dry red Montepulciano wine is the big name in Abruzzo, the walk around tasting provided an opportunity to try other Abruzzo wines.
We did get to try another wine made from Montepulciano grapes, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. It is a rosé-style wine with more color than many rosé wines and is full of flavors of cherry and strawberry. Trebbiano is the most popular white wine produced in Abruzzo, but we discovered wines made from the Pecorino grape a big takeaway. Pecorino makes a heavier-bodied aromatic white wine with flavors of melon and tropical fruit. We heard Pecorino described as “a white wine with shoulders,” and I see that as a fitting description.
If you would like to do your own “Texas verses Italy” tasting, Duchman Family Winery makes a great Montepulciano. Llano Estacado Winery also makes a Montepulciano-heavy blend under the THP label. I plan on picking up a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and doing a side-by-side comparison soon!