I have begun writing a series on Italian grape varieties for Altacucina Society’s website. While I say in my introduction to the series that surely I will miss a few, I have decided to integrate the ones I missed on this blog. For Altacucina Society, I started with Aglianico although then I swiftly discovered at Vinitaly that there are three additional Italian varieties that I should have placed before Aglianico – Abbuoto, Abrusco and Abrustine. Mea Culpa. Abbuoto is a red grape which grows in the near the town of Frosinone in the Lazio region. In ancient times, this grape made a wine which was called Caecubum. A version of this wine is still made today by famed producer Villa Matilde. I tried a number of the wines at Villa Matilde but did not have the good fortune to try this one. This wine is imported by Empson.
Luckily I have a new tome, Vitigni d’Italia by Antonio Calo, Attilio Scienza and Angelo Costacurta that will keep me on the straight and narrow. I noticed with amusement that Jeremy Parzen mentioned the same book in a recent blog post on Dobianchi, his ode to Italian wines.
Back to grape varieties, Abrusco I recently learned is also a red grape. It is said to be of Tuscan origin. Some think it may be related to Colorino while others suggest that it is related to the family of Lambrusco grapes. According to my new wine bible, this grape is largely used as a coloring agent. In the past it was blended with other grapes but today, as part of an effort to restore ancient Tuscan varietals, at least two wineries are working with it. The first, Le Tre Stelle, has made a 100% Abrusco called Agino in memory of their father and Luigi Veronelli. This agriturismo has a very interesting marketing idea, adotta un vitigno or adopt a grape variety. I like it.
I tried a whole series of indigeous Tuscan varieties at Vinitaly which I will write about in the coming days. San Felice has Abrusco on its property as well as Abrustine, a third indigenous varietal that I had never heard of and which is not listed in my new bible. I also happened upon an interesting Italian blog, Sorsi di Vino which decants the Abrusco grape and its origins.