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.

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.


  1. […] I’d like to mention two series of ampelographic posts that I’ve been following: the one by Alessandro Bindocci at Montalcino Report, who asks “Is Sangiovese Grosso really Grosso?” and the other by Susannah Gold at Avvinare, who is writing an English-language dictionary of Italian grape varieties. […]

  2. i am very familiar with villa matilde, it was always around in napoli/ischia and i’ve had the cecubo, but i don’t remember much about it! i tasted it at vitigno italia from the wine-maker, i guess if he had told me the story it might have left a more lasting impression…

    i look forward to seeing you make your way through the alphabet!

  3. The Cecubo on the Villa Matilde site says it is prominently primitivo and it gets 1/3 new oak ageing. How much is abbuoto? Does it vary from year to year? Maybe that’s why Tracie B. doesn’t remember it specifically? It seems that no matter what book you can find, there will be something you read about elsewhere that is not in it(one of my personal pet-peeves-but-what-are-you-gonna-do?) When I first heard Le Tre Stelle was making a ciliegiolo I was looking forward to trying it but eventually did and found it over-oaked. Hope they don’t do that with the Agino. If you ever go there, be sure and stop next door and pick up some olive oil from the frantoio.

  4. Thanks Tracie b. and Dobi for the shout out.

    Michele, on the Empson website (US importer), it says that the Abbuoto is 45% of the 2004 Cecubo. There is a lot of information out there I agree. Great heads up about the olive oil from the frantoio. I haven’t tried the Agino but like you prefer no oak or subtly oaked wines rather than heavily oaked ones. When I get to try it, I will let you know. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. We just visited the Ferlaino vineyard in Cetona, Siena – they are also making 100% Abrusco and 100% Abrostine wines from experimental plantings of approx 0.2 hectares each. We bought a few cases to bring home, very tasty!

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