Even if it is made up of a small area, Abruzzi is an important region when considered in terms of wine production.
Already in ancient times poets and writers wrote about the wines of Abruzzi, exalting it. Pliny the elder, an expert, considered the wines of Peligni to be excellent. In his Naturalis Historia e Marziale he considered them to be on the same level, in terms of quality and merit, to the wines of Tuscany. Ovid couldn’t miss the opportunity to exalt his native land, underlining that the vineyard was the most widespread form of cultivation in the Peligna valley.
Legends flourished about the quality of the wines of Abruzzi, such as Hannibal’s horses being cured of scabies after having been washed with large amounts of wine.
From other written sources it is gathered that the wines of Abruzzi were exported to Rome and were served at patrician tables. As a result of the edict of Domitian, on the basis of which at least fifty percent of vineyards had to be destroyed in order to overcome the overproduction of wines in Italy, vine cultivation in Abruzzi underwent breakdown. It was then completely destroyed by the barbarian invasions.
The grapevine flourished again with the return to agriculture that came about with the rise and spread of monasticism. In the sixteenth century, the Dominican Father Serafino Razzi, prior of the convent of Penne from 1574 to 1576, spoke of the wines and vineyards of Abruzzi in his writings. And again, during the Renaissance, Andrea Bacci pointed out that the area around Aquila distinguished itself from the other areas of Abruzzi for its wine production. It produced so much wine that the wine cellars contained enormous casks, “each holding one hundred cadis or more,” equal to three thousand nine hundred or more litres.
The few wines that have so far been recognised as DOC are, however, greatly appreciated and are typical of the grapevine cultivation of the region.
In the limited number of municipalities in the province of Teramo, fifteen typologies of wine are produced with the name Controguerra. The main centre of production is the municipality from which the wines take their name. Teramo was called “Interamnia Praetutiorum” by the Romans because it was enclosed between the Bezzola and Tordino rivers. It was brought under Roman rule in the first decades of the third century B.C.
The vineyards which compete to produce Controguerra wines with their own grapes are numerous. They produce a red wine with an intense ruby red colour, a vinous aroma and dry, slightly tannic, distinctive flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. The novello has a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent. It has a ruby red colour and a fruity aroma with a zesty, slightly acidulous flavour. The Merlot has the same colour, with a fruity and distinctive aroma and a dry flavour typical of this type of vine. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12 percent. The Cabernet has the same minimum alcohol content and colour. It has an herbaceous and distinctive aroma and a dry flavour typical of this type of vine. The Pinot Nero has a less intense ruby red colour and an intense, distinctive aroma. It has a harmonious, lightly bitterish flavour and a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent. The Ciliegiolo has the same minimum alcohol content. It has a rose colour tending toward cherry red and typical aroma, with a dry and harmonious flavour.
The white wines are dry and still and have a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent. The wines are: white with a straw yellow colour, a fruity aroma and a dry flavour with a lightly bitterish aftertaste; Passerina, which is straw yellow with golden yellow highlights, with a tenuous aroma and a refreshing, zesty flavour. The Malvasia has a typical aroma and a pleasingly dry flavour, with an intense, straw yellow colour. The Riesling has a straw yellow colour with green highlights. It has a distinctive, pleasing aroma and a dry, refreshing, harmonious flavour. The Chardonnay has a less intense straw yellow colour and a delicate, pleasing, distinctive aroma with a dry, harmonious flavour. The sparkling white wine has a lower minimum alcohol content. It has a straw yellow colour with greenish highlights. It has a fruity aroma and a refreshing, floral flavour.
The spumante has an intense straw yellow colour with a delicate, persistent bouquet and a pleasantly refreshing, full, lingering flavour. It has an elegant texture and a delicate perlage with a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
The Moscato amabile has a pale straw yellow colour, a distinctive aroma and a sweetish, spiced flavour and a minimum alcohol content of 10.5 percent.
The passito, in the white and red typologies, has a colour which varies from straw yellow to intense amber, if white grapes are used and garnet red tending toward brick red if red grapes are used. It has an etheric, distinctive aroma and a harmonious, velvety flavour with a minimum alcohol content of 14 percent.
This wine has uncertain origins. According to some authors, the Montepulciano grapevine was introduced in Abruzzi at the beginning of the nineteenth century by a traveller coming from Tuscany. Today, this vine is cultivated in the four provinces of the region: Chieti, L’Aquila, Pescara and Teramo, and in many other municipalities characterised by regular atmospheric conditions.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is prepared in various typologies. The red has an intense ruby red colour with light shadings, tending towards orange with ageing. It has a vinous, tenuous and pleasing aroma with a dry, soft, zesty, slightly tannic flavour and a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
The type produced in the Colline Tramane area has the same colour, a distinctive, etheric, intense aroma and a dry, full, robust yet harmonious and velvety flavour. It has a minimum alcohol content of 12.5 percent and is also produced in the “Riserva” type.
The Cerasuolo has a more or less pale cherry red colour, a dry, soft, harmonious, delicate flavour with a pleasingly almondy aftertaste. It has a minimum alcohol content of 11.5 percent.
From records currently available it is impossible to judge when the grapevine was imported into Abruzzi. In any case, it has acclimatised itself well, so much so that it is cultivated in all the provinces with wines of distinction and refinement.
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo has a straw yellow colour and a vinous, pleasing, delicately perfumed aroma. It has a dry, zesty, velvety, harmonious flavour with a minimum alcohol content of 11 percent.