This is the first post in 2018 about an Italian indigenous variety. I have been writing this series off and on for nine years. I had hope to be finished with the “M” varieties in 2017 but I still have many to go. One of these varieties is called Montonico Bianco. It’s somewhat confusing because it is not the same grape that one finds in Calabria under a very similar name. This one is in fact from Abruzzo in the province of Teramo. It is a very ancient variety and one that is only found in a few places. It was used primarily as a blending grape and in the past was exported as a table grape to Germany.
I found an amazing article about a young woman named Francesca Valenti from Bisenti in Abruzzo who has three hectares which she has dedicated to growing Montonico. In this long interview, which is only in Italian I believe, she tells the story of going with her grandfather into the fields in elementary school and how much she wants to bring back this particular vine which is part of the history of Abruzzo. She mentions that their area is a very complicated one with large thermal excursion between the day and night in terms of temperature. She also noted that the earth is not very fertile and has a lot of clay. She mentions two topographical notes that are important for grape growing in their area: the nearby river and the mountains. She also speaks about the damages that she has to her vineyards from Cinghiali or wild boar.
Francesca says that she hopes not only to bring back wines made from this particular grape but also all the products that are linked to this wine such as certain desserts and jams as well as vino and mosto cotto which are wines with a long history from this part of central Italy.
Francesca mentions a colleague, named Matteo Ciccone who has one hectare of vines but who is already farther ahead in his production than Francesca. They both are looking to make a sparkling version of these wines. I hope to be able to taste them sometime in the future.