Discover joy of some of the best Abruzzo wines from Italy and you won’t regret it

Abruzzo wines One Foot in the Grapes

The other day I was doing what I love best, randomly browsing a wine aisle creating a mid-aisle trolley hazard, when I spotted Morrisons The Best Pecorino and went a bit light-headed.

I was drawn to it because a) it is from the Abruzzo region in Italy which I’ve just visited b) it has a picture of a sheep on the label c) it isn’t pinot grigio.

There is complete logic in my ABC so let me explain.

I bet many of you (hello? I hope there’s more than one of you out there) will have tasted the Italian reds labelled Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I’ve found they can be hit and miss; but on speaking to the producers in their wineries I discovered that Abruzzo wines bottled outside the region can have little essence and personality due to the bulk processes involved.

To taste the wines which are bottled in situ was fantastic, some were divine. My eyes were opened sipping these reds in the region in which they’re born.

Abruzzo wines review
A simple plate of bread, olive oil, and a white wine from Abruzzo is delicious

Another eye-opener was the white wine. Italian whites can be oh-so so-so but Abruzzo’s pecorino, passerina and trebbiano are fresh, zingy, often tropical, often citrussy, sometimes complex.

Morrisons Best Pecorino abruzzo wines label
Sheep-ish

Back to my ABC and Morrisons The Best Pecorino  (I’d paid £8, prices may vary, 13% abv). I was giddy at the sheep label  on Morrisons’ bottle because in Abruzzo a winemaker had told me the grape is so-called because as sheep (pecoro) are herded over the hillsides they eat the grapes.  I’d also been seeking a white wine to encourage friends to try new white wines, instead of always drinking pinot grigio. I thought this pecorino could be a winner. 

Then, success.  “I love it,” one friend said, as the pecorino’s peachy and zesty notes won her heart.  Oh – and as an aside, this wine has won a silver trophy at the International Wine Challenge.

Thank you Abruzzo for one lady converted to my “don’t just drink pinot grigio” cause.


Here’s four more Abruzzo wines you can seek out  

Contesa Pecorino 2016 (£9.75, thewinesociety.com, 12.5% abv) A white wine with inviting aromas of summer flowers – freesias maybe – with lemons and a dash of dried honey with a  lively acidity and citrus flavours. There’ll still be some summer left, somewhere in the world, and it’s a perfect sunshine wine.

Abruzzo Cococciola Frentana 2016 (£11, Bat and Bottle – batwine.uk, 12.5% abv) Cococciola is a grape new to me, though I’ll be seeking it out again. Lime and lemons are a zesty tease on the nose, together with spring flowers on a breeze. The citrus flavours are refreshing, the acidity not too demanding a sensation. It’s a wine nicely in balance and calling out for a seafood platter.

 

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2015 Masciarelli (£11.99, or £9.99 in a mix six deal at Majestic, 13% abv) Pepper and spice and all plummy things nice. I love this wine, with its aroma notes of dry wood, cherries,  damsons and black pepper. In the mouth black fruit and cherry are centre stage, the tannins aren’t overpowering and the acidity isn’t too racy. I’ll have a steak please.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Vigna Corvino, 2015 (£7.95, thewinesociety.com, 12.5% abv)  The nose speaks freshly-picked hedgerow fruits, ripe and juicy, and a dalliance with spice. The acidity is medium and the tannins are drying but not too much. The fruit is young, fresh and pleasing. A lovely glass to drink with friends as you wait for the pizza to cook.


The four wines I tasted were among the Top 50 Abruzzo wines selected by Masters of Wine Sam Caporn and Peter McCombie, together with Naked Wines Buying Director Ray O’Connor and sommelier expert Matt Day.

To discover more about Abruzzo wines you can follow the #abruzzowines hashtag on Twitter or Instagram – or visit the website vinidabruzzo.it


*A VERSION OF THIS PIECE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN OVER 30 TRINITY MIRROR REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS INCLUDING:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Christmas white wine to chink as you open the pressies (or just because you neeeeed)

Limestone Rise English Christmas white wine

I can’t wait for Christmas Day and my first glass of white! Here’s a Christmas white wine selection to suit all pockets which you can pour as the family arrives, right through to Dad sneaking the last roast potato onto his plate.

Extra Special French Chardonnay (13.5% abv, £5, ASDA) This Languedoc  chardonnay is lightly oaked which brings some creaminess to the apple and citrus flavours, but don’t worry it’s not one of those in-your-face oaky assaults. It’s easy drinking but has enough personality to sit happily next to a plate of turkey and sprouts.
Christmas white wine factor: Pour a glass when you’ve finished the shopping

Limestone Rise (11% abv, £7.99 The Co-op) This is an English white from the Co-op, which 15 years ago was the first retailer to sell English wine before it became the “in thing”. This blend of bacchus and ortega grapes has sherbert, elderflower, a spring breeze and a really nice little bite of citrus and acidity.
Christmas white wine factor: Something different for the Christmas table

La Altelana Gavi di Gavi 2015 (11.5% abv, £7.99, Aldi) The label looks classy, take a bottle to a party and wow your hosts. Or save it for yourself and it’ll breeze through the prawns and be very happy with the turkey and crisp vegetables. It’s an Italian white with hints of green in the glass, with fresh lemon aromas and subtle minerality.
Christmas white wine factor: Refresh those taste buds after a long day eating

Fief des Pierres Blanches Quincy, 2015 (13.5 % abv, £8.99 Lidl) Mmmm … zesty! A great wine from the Loire Valley which is fresh and full of lemony aromas and tropical fruit flavours. If you’re a bit dulled from Santa’s Christmas Eve sherry this will really perk you up. Delicious.
Christmas white wine factor: Really fresh and great with seafood

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Chapel Down Bacchus (12% abv £9.99 from £12.99, Waitrose) Bacchus is the ancient Roman name for the classical god of wine. Who would have thought that my fascination with ancient history would have a nice link to my love of wine.  Bacchus is similar to sauvignon blanc – think grapefruit, elderflower and gooseberry with a zesty woosh alongside. The 2015 vintage won bronze at the Decanter awards.
Christmas white wine factor: How about English zing for the Boxing Day curry

Wm Morrison Chablis Premier Cru 2014 (13% abv, £15) Toast your Christmas Day guests with this terrific Chablis from Morrisons which has just won gold (again) at the latest International Wine Challenge awards. Chablis is perfect with a seafood starter as the vines grow on an ancient seabed. This wine has minerality, melon and grapefruit flavours, with a soft touch of vanilla.
Christmas white wine factor: An amazing white which always wins praise

Domaine de la Mandelière Robert Nicolle 2015 (12.5% abv,  £14.49 or £13.04 in a buy six deal at www.laithwaites.co.uk) This Chablis is from a small, family run estate on a ridge of limestone in the famous wine district. It is pale straw, with aromas of  crisp apple and a flash of citrus, which both appear on the palate with a signature wet stone minerality.
Christmas white wine factor: Poached salmon? Yes please

The Society’s Exhibition Pouilly-Fuissé 2014 (13% abv, £18, www.thewinesociety.com) Love, love, love! The Wine Society’s Exhibition wines aim to be the best examples of wine from a particular region – this one a classic Burgundian white.  This has bright citrus but with creaminess, cushioned by vanilla and an upright flash of minerality.
Christmas white wine factor:  Perfect with turkey and all the trimmings

Fess Parker, Santa Barbara County Chardonnay (14.2% abv, from £13.95 at The Wine Society and www.amathusdrinks.com) OMG. Which in this case stands for Orgasmic, Melony, Golden. This chardonnay is barrel-fermented, aged in French oak and it’s utter heaven. You could have it with your turkey. It’s full and rich enough to go with Christmas pud. But forget that. Sit. On your own. When the house is empty. And drink it with lashings of self-indulgence. Quality Street are made for sharing. This isn’t.
Christmas white wine factor:  It’s just a wow.

These wine reviews were first published in December 2016 in several regional UK newspapers including:

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express