Monthly Archives: April 2009

Indigenous Italian Grape Varieties: Abbuoto, Abrusco and Abrustine

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.
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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.

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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.

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Forte Divino, a new Italian Wine Event in Forte dei Marmi on April 19 & 20

I have been in Italy for the past three weeks and have been absent from this blog. I have tried many new wines and met old and new friends along the way. It has been a truly wonderful experience although the terrible earthquake in Abruzzo on April 6 at 3:32 a.m. has put a pale over the country and its inhabitants. Many initiatives are underway here and in the States to help the victims of this catastrophe. I hope everyone involved in the wine world is helping out. I will write about the wines from Abruzzo that I tasted at Vinitaly this week but wanted to mention an event that is happening on this Sunday and Monday. Forte Divino is a new wine event which will be held at Villa Bertelli on April 19 and 20 in Forte dei Marmi, in Tuscany. Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this year but definitely plan on attending in the future. The event will showcase white wines and sparkling wines. This edition is called numero zero. There will be three sections to the event, one of Classic wines or those of well known Italian producers, a second section is dedicated to Italian importers who bring in white wines and sparkling wines and a third section is for those wines that have a terrific price/quality ratio. Forte dei Marmi is located on the Tuscan coast in an area called Versilia. It is beautiful and very chic. I have no doubt the event will be a success. I had the pleasure of meeting one of the organizers of Fortedivino at Vinitaly, Gianpaolo Giacomelli. Gianpaolo owns an enoteca, Il Mulino del Cibus, in Sarzana, a lovely town on the border between Liguria and Tuscany near the city of La Spezia. His wine knowledge and palate were truly impeccable and I am sure that he and his partners will bring noteworthy producers to the event. I’m sorry I will miss this first edition.

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