Italy Abruzzo Friuli-Venezia Giulia Spirit
There are few countries in the world with a viticultural history as long or as illustrious as that claimed by Italy. Grapes were first being grown and cultivated on Italian soil several thousand years ago by the Greeks and the Pheonicians, who named Italy 'Oenotria' – the land of wines – so impressed were they with the climate and the suitability of the soil for wine production. Of course, it was the rise of the Roman Empire which had the most lasting influence on wine production in Italy, and their influence can still be felt today, as much of the riches of the empire came about through their enthusiasm for producing wines and exporting it to neighbouring countries. Since those times, a vast amount of Italian land has remained primarily for vine cultivation, and thousands of wineries can be found throughout the entire length and breadth of this beautiful country, drenched in Mediterranean sunshine and benefiting from the excellent fertile soils found there. Italy remains very much a 'land of wines', and one could not imagine this country, its landscape and culture, without it.
Situated on the east coast of central Italy, between the mountains and the sea, Abruzzo is a wine region which has the best of all possible worlds. Beautiful and varied terroir, with blazing sunshine and cooling breezes blowing off the Adriatic, history and modernity, and an independent spirit supported by generations of tradition and expertise. This is a wine region with a serious past, stretching back to the very origins of wine production in Europe - the Etruscans were the first to cultivate vines here, and the Romans lent their industrious and forward-thinking minds to viticulture in Abruzzo, something which is still felt today if you wander among the villages and vineyards.
Abruzzo has over 90,000 acres of land dedicated to wine production and grape-growing, and is the fifth most productive wine region in Italy. The majority of viticultural activity takes place in the hillier regions, where the microclimates are ideal for the historic vineyards, particularly around the sub-region of Chieti, which produces plenty of sunny and characterful wines ranging from Pinot Grigio to Sangiovese and crowd-pleasing Merlots. The climatic conditions of Abruzzo are particularly favorable, with this region seeing a fine balance of rainfall and sunshine, allowing for a long and bountiful ripening season which sees the grapes reach full ripeness and provides plenty of expression of terroir.
Abruzzo has one DOCG, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane, where we find beautiful blended red wines made from Montepulciano and Sangiovese varietals. It also has three DOC regions, based around these red grapes as well as white varietals such as Trebbiano.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia is an important Italian wine region, situated high in the northernmost parts of the country, and close to the Slovenian and Austrian borders. As such, there is a considerable Germanic influence on the wines of this region, with varietals such as Riesling growing alongside Italian classics such as Pinot Grigio. The finest wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia are considered to be those which capture the alpine essence of the region, with its pine scented terroirs and crystal mountain waters which run down from the mountains. There are also several interesting lesser known grape varietals processed in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which gives the region a unique wine culture which the local wine makers are immensely proud of, and which makes the region a fascinating one to explore.