Let Me Introduce You to Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Your Next Choice of Red Wine

As Italy's wine landscape evolves, Abruzzo emerges as a dynamic force, garnering increasing recognition both nationally and internationally. This achievement is rooted in a storied past rich in tradition, driven by the historical renown of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Coupled with a modern development model that has flourished in the past decade, Abruzzo's native vines have blossomed, yielding a diverse array of high-quality wines that reflect the region's unique terroir. Central to Abruzzo's success is a new generation of oenologists and the producers who push for innovation and sustainability. We are in 2024, we find refinement in our glasses.

"Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is the main grape variety of our region in recent years we have aimed, both through changes to the production specifications and intense promotional activity, to raise the value of the denomination to be increasingly competitive and guarantee our winemakers a correct income," explains Franco D'Eusanio, vice president of the Consorzio Vini D'Abruzzo.

Franco D'Eusanio, vice president of the Consorzio Vini D'Abruzzo

Enrico Cerulli Irelli, former president of the Consorzio Colline Teramane explains,"Colline Teramane is not just a denomination of origin of the Montepulciano grape but it is a qualification that indicates a territory in which men, traditions, environment and history have defined viticulture and with it is the unique identity of the wines. Today this excellence becomes in all respects a standard-bearer in the world of the great quality of Abruzzo wines."

Enrico Cerulli Irelli, former president of the Consorzio Colline Teramane

Climate and Terrain

The position of Abruzzo nestled between the Adriatic Sea and the majestic Gran Sasso and Majella, massifs in the Apennine mountains, boasts a landscape naturally conducive to viticulture. Within its borders lie three national parks and more than ten national and regional reserves, embodying biodiversity in its immediate environment. The region's topography can be categorized into two distinct zones: the rugged mountainous in the interior part, comprising over 65% of the regional territory, and the coastal region adorned with expansive hillsides. The coastal areas enjoy a Mediterranean climate, tempered by refreshing sea breezes, while inland regions exhibit a more continental climate with greater temperature fluctuations, especially at higher elevations. Rainfall is abundant, with coastal areas experiencing milder precipitation compared to the interior.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC wines are exclusively sourced from vineyards situated on hilly or plateau terrain, with altitudes not exceeding 600 meters above sea level (exceptionally reaching 700 meters for those sun-kissed slopes facing south). Spanning approximately 17,000 hectares of cultivated land, these vineyards yield wines of excellent quality.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, the Grapes

Central to Abruzzo's viticultural heritage lies Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, a grape variety rich in history and tradition. This grape traces its presence in the region since the mid-18th century, thriving in the area's fertile soils. It reigns as the region's primary red grape variety, constituting over 80% of Abruzzo's total wine production and ranking among the top three DOC wines in Italy.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is characterized by medium-compact clusters with conical pyramid shapes, often winged, and elongated berries with firm, pruinose skins, and they ripen relatively late in the season. The resulting wine exhibits a vibrant ruby red hue with aromas of violets, cherries, berries, and hints of licorice. Whether enjoyed in its youthful exuberance or aged with beautiful complexity in oak barrels, cement or amphora, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC offers a sensory journey of depth and complexity.

The Abruzzo Model of 2023: Reshaping the Region's Appellations

Building upon its debut in 2023, the Abruzzo Model persists in its mission to unite regional oenology under a common identity while celebrating the diverse terroirs that define Abruzzo's winemaking landscape. This innovative approach in reshaping the organization of wine appellations not only simplifies designation of origin and PGIs but also enhances their visibility and marketability on a global scale. The introduction of the San Martino sulla Marruccina subzone in the 2023 harvest further enriches the existing subzones, including Terre dei Vestini, Teate, Terre dei Peligni, and Alto Tirino. With the implementation of the Abruzzo Model starting from the 2024 harvest, all Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) wines will be consolidated under the unified designation of IGT Terre d'Abruzzo. 

A significant breakthrough accompanies the inception of the Superior designation, designed to highlight productions subject to rigorous production standards. This designation serves to elevate exceptional wines, earmarking them for refined production reserves across provincial territories. Exclusive to the Superior category is the opportunity to showcase smaller, more identifiable territories on labels, including provincial sub-areas and, in the future, even more restricted designations such as Additional Geographical Units and individual vineyards.

Both Superiore and Riserva wines must prominently feature the label of the provincial sub-area, whether it be Colline Pescaresi, Terre de L'Aquila, or Terre di Chieti, underscoring Abruzzo's commitment to transparency and quality across its winemaking regions.

Consorzio Tutela Vini d'Abruzzo

Established in 2003 by a decree of the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies (MiPAF), the Consorzio Tutela Vini d'Abruzzo is a non-profit associative body entrusted with the protection, valorization, and overall care of the interests related to Abruzzo's wine denominations. The Consortium's primary mandate is to oversee the enforcement of regulatory standards for the denominations and to enhance the value of individual denominations. Among the wines under its protection are those with Controlled Designation of Origin status, including Colline Teramane DOCG, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo DOC, Abruzzo DOC and Villamagna DOC.

Colline di Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG

Located in the heart of Abruzzo between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso massif, lies this land of vineyards where vines flourish and wines are designated with the denomination of Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG. From its inception as the inaugural DOCG in 2003 to its integration into the Consorzio Vini d'Abruzzo, this designation stands as a column of regional excellence, embodying centuries of winemaking tradition and a commitment to quality. 

The Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG encompasses 32 municipalities in the northern province of Teramo, each contributing to a terroir that imparts unparalleled character to Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines. It spans 172 hectares and with a production of approximately 600 thousand bottles annually.

The geography and climate of Colline Teramane provide an ideal environment for cultivating Montepulciano grapes. With undulating hills cascading towards the sea and the imposing presence of the Gran Sasso to the northwest, this region benefits from optimal ventilation and diverse soil compositions. Clay-silty soils, a product of Plio-Pleistocene deposits, coupled with well-distributed rainfall and significant temperature variations, foster healthy vegetative growth and the accumulation of aromatic compounds within the grapes.

The Montepulciano grape, revered as the ambassador of the region, yields robust ruby red wines with youthful purple nuances that mature into elegant garnet tones with age. While the denomination permits a maximum of 10% Sangiovese grapes, most producers opt for pure Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, emphasizing its singular expression. These wines are characterized by their complexity, boasting intense fruit-forward aromas of both red and dark stone fruits, intertwined with natural spiciness and subtle toasting nuances, creating a sensory experience that is both captivating and refined. Anticipate a dry and balanced profile, with coastal variations offering brackish marine influences, while those closer to the Apennines showcase a distinctive saline minerality.

This wine is a perfect companion to the intense yet balanced flavors of Teramo cuisine, particularly dishes featuring mutton and lamb. Its elegance also complements a variety of meats, whether braised, stewed, or grilled, as well as aged cheeses. With its versatility, Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo adds a touch of sophistication to any dining experience, inviting connoisseurs to savor the essence of Abruzzo's culinary and winemaking traditions.

A Preview Tasting of the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

The kick-off event for the consortium's activities in 2024 was dedicated to Montepulciano D'Abruzzo in its various regional expressions, featuring two technical tastings for the press on March 1st at Borgo Spoltino in Mosciano Sant'Angelo. The morning session delved into the denomination of Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG featuring 27 wines, 12 of which are the Riserva type. Whereas the afternoon unveiled 71 new vintages of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC, set to debut in 2024. The format was a representative tasting that marked the conclusion of a journey with the Consorzio Colline Teramane that began in 2020 and the first event under the guidance of the Consorzio Vini d'Abruzzo. This juxtaposition provided an opportunity to compare wines crafted from the same grape variety, each expressing its own unique characteristics and nuances with diversity in their terrain and refining methods, some of which use cement, amphora, wood or steel.

My Best Tastings of Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC

Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG:
Velonosi Versosera 2021 (Controguerra); Fattoria Nicodemi Notari 2021 (Notaresco); Abbazia di Propezzano Mab 2021 (Morro d'Oro); Tenuta Morganti Nina 2021 (Torano Nuovo); Bossanova Il Bossa 2022 (Controguerra); Emidio Pepe Emidio Pepe 2021 (Torano Nuovo).

Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOCG Riserva:
Montori Fonte Cupa 2019 (Colonella); Cantina Strappelli Colle Trà 2018 (Torano Nuovo); Centorame Castellum Vetus (tank sample from cement vat) 2019 (Atri); Barone Cornacchia Vizzaro 2019 (Torano Nuovo; Fattoria Nicodemi Neromoro 2020 (Notaresco)

My Best Tastings of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC:
Cascina del Colle Mammut 2020 (Villamagna); Tenuta i Fauri Baldovino 2022 (Chieti); Nododivino Monovarietale 2020 (Ortona); Contesa Contesa 2022 (Collecorvino); Talamonti Modà 2022 (Loreto Aprutino); Tenuta de Melis Bardasce 2022 (Penne); Barone di Valforte 2023 (Silvi); Tenuta Antonini Corium 2022 (Ancarano); Velenosi Prope 2022 (Ancarano); Tenuta Morganti Dolcenera (refined in amphora) 2022 (Controguerra); Cirelli Anfora 2021 (Atri); Emidio Pepe 2020 (Torano Nuovo); and Inalto Campo Affamato 2020 (Ofena).

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC Riserva:
Tenuta i Fauri Vigna Santa Cecilia 2020 (Chieti); Cantina Zaccagnini Il Vino dal Tralcetto 2020 (Bolognano); Pasetti Testarossa 2020 (Francavilla al Mare); Masciarelli Marina Cvetic ISKRA 2020 (San Martino sulla Marruccina); Contesa Chiedi alla Polvere 2020 (Collecorvino); and Marramiero Inferi 2020 (Rosciano).

Consorzio Tutela Vini d'Abruzzo

Website: https://www.vinidabruzzo.it/
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