Wednesday, September 30, 2015

ItalianFWT: Italian Food, Wine & Travel visits Umbria


Welcome back to Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) for our 12th month. Gosh, we have covered so many regions of Italy and are in our 2nd half of the country. Last month we shared with you our experiences in the region of Abruzzo and this month we take you to central Italy again, but to the region of Umbria this time. Many folks say that Umbria is in the shadows of Tuscany, but this week we're going to show you why Umbria needs to be considered in it's own spotlight for all it's beauty and what it offers to those that visit it.

Map of Umbria
Map of Umbria copyright of Federdoc

Umbria is a fertile, hilly region also known as the “green heart of Italy”. It's the only region within Italy that is landlocked surrounded by the regions of Tuscany, Lazio and the Marche. Even though it doesn't have the sea influences as many of the other regions there is Lake Trasimeno and Lake Bolsena within the region that create milder microclimates.



Travel in Umbria

There are so many great medieval towns worth visiting within Umbria and all known for their own highlights. My last trip to Italy brought me back to Umbria for my 2nd time to gawk at the Gothic Duomo in the hilltop town of Orvieto and relax in the peacefulness of Assisi, especially at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. To celebrate the renaissance of Italy one must visit to the town of Urbino and the Palazzo Ducale. For wine lovers there is not only the town of Orvieto to visit, but also Torgiano and Montefalco. Other towns of of note are Spoleto, Todi and Gubbio.

Duomo in Orvieto
Duomo in Orvieto
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi
Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Food of Umbria

Every region has their own specialities and Umbria is known for a number of food delights. One of it's best known gems are tartufo nero, black truffles. They are a very distinct taste with their intense aromatics and powerful flavors. Pork is very common throughout this region as well, especially in the town of Norcia. Beans, including lentils and farro, are most popular in the town of Castelluccio di Norcia. To top it all off for my chocolate lovers one must visit the chocolate festival in October in Perugia or year round you can make a stop at at the Perugina factory for some fresh samples. It's a calorie free tour of course!

Umbria black truffles
Black truffles of Umbria by Umbria lovers

Wines of Umbria

Wines have been produced in Umbria since the settlements of the Etruscans as well as the Romans. If you enjoy white wine, Umbria is dominated by Orvieto. These wines are named after the local town and are made primarily from the grechetto and procanico, aka trebbiano, grapes. For red wines, sangiovese and sagrantino are the primary grapes and are well worth lots of recognition for their power structure.
Sagrantino grape of Montefalco Umbria

Here is a preview of our upcoming blogs on the region of Umbria:

Vino Travels: Immersion in Umbrian wine with Sagrantino
The Palladian Traveler - Marcello's Big Fat Italian Christening
Orna O'Reilly -  Castelluccio di Norcia: On the Rooftop of the Apennines
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Roasted Flank Steak with Zucchini Mint Pesto with an Umbrian Merlot
Italophilia - Visiting Assisi in the Enchanting Umbrian Hills
Flavourful Tuscany - Umbrian Cuisine and Fun Facts
Rockin Red Blog - Beauty and the Beast
Enofylz Wine Blog - Umbria's Sagrantino: Call It a Comeback
Food Wine Click - Orange is the New Red: Paolo Bea Santa Chiara & Umbrian Steak on FoodWineClick
The Wining Hour - Taste Umbria - Black Truffle Linguini with Shrimp & Montefalco Sagrantino
Cooking Chat Food - Rigatoni with Collard Greens & Sausage with Wine from Umbria

Join us this Saturday October 3rd at 11am EST on twitter at #ItalianFWT to share your experiences with Umbria.  There is still time to join our group as well so shoot me an email at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

Garnacha and it's relation to Cannonau

This past weekend I broke out again of the Italian wine shell and ventured into the world of Spanish wine celebrating Garnacha Day that falls on the third weekend of September annually. Wine bloggers, wine lovers and sommeliers all over the world participated in a number of different events and online chats via #GarnachaDay. I had the honor and privilege to receive 5 different kinds of garnacha from Snooth and attend a live virtual tasting hosted by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec and the Best Spanish Sommelier of 2014, Guillermo Cruz. Laura is the owner of Corkbuzz and Guillermo is a sommelier at one of the top 6 restaurants in the world, Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain.
Garnacha Day with Snooth
Garnacha Day with Snooth
Get ready for your palates to salivate as we not only talk about the wines of the tastings, but I included some suggestions of those on the live chat to consider.

Here are the wines that we sampled at the virtual tasting. Luckily I enjoyed them throughout the weekend because God knows I can't throw back 5 bottles in a night.
  • 2014 Clos Dalian Garnacha Blanca – crisp, refreshing, good acidity, minerally, lots of tropical fruit (banana). Some suggestions of swordfish, shrimp ceviche, and grilled fish were discussed. Retail $10.
  • 2014 Beso de Vino Old Vine Garnacha – Meaning “fall in love” with a catchy label, ripe raspberries and cherry aromatic nose with blackberries on the palate with a slight tartness. Medium bodied. Retail $8.99.
    Beso de vino old vine garnacha
     
  • 2013 Las Rocas Garnacha – One of the first garnacha wines I ever had this wine showed ripe fruit, plums with herbal notes and some white pepper. Pairing suggestion of pulled pork. Retail $10.99 
    Las Rocas Garnacha

  • 2013 Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria - A hint of spearmint on the nose with some nice spice on the palate, dark fruit and hints of cedar. Full bodied with a nice length on the finish. Retail $14.99 
  • 2010 Vinas del Vero Secastilla Garnacha– Anise on the nose. A more complex, full bodied wine with ripe dark fruit, savory, good structure and spice. Retail $28.
*average prices from Snooth

The favorite of the night?
What seemed to be the favorite of the night for myself and others was the final wine, the 2010 Secastilla. Saved the best for last right? The 2013 Coto de Hayas was my runner up. For value you can't go wrong with some of the other wines at that price point.
Vinas del Vero Secastilla Garnacha
Selection of the night
Coto de Hayas Garnacha Centenaria
2nd runner up
How does garnacha relate to Italian grapes?
Even though we're talking about garnacha from Spain there is a connection to Italian wine. Garnacha is the same as the grape in Italy known as cannonau and also in France as the grape grenache. Within Italy it's most commonly grown on the island of Sardinia. Why so many different names? There are many clones of grape varieties throughout the world and even within Italy you'll find the same grape known under different names within different regions. The grape nebbiolo in Piedmont is known as spanna in the northern part of the region. Trebbiano, the most commmon white grape throughout Italy is also known as procanico in Umbria. The list goes on. What makes these grapes different from country to country is the terroir. This includes the soil, climate, topography, etc. According to Guillermo, Sardinia and Corsica are great places for this grape to show its best expression outside of Spain.

Have you had Garnacha or maybe any of its clones throughout the world?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Nebbiolo wines of the Langhe and Roero with Demarie

A blogging friend of mine, Valerie from Girls Gotta Drink, that I finally got to meet in person in Verona earlier this year in February, is building her business in Piedmont. She not only does wine tours in Piedmont, but is representing wineries and promoting their products and building their brands and presence throughout the world. I was honored to receive some samples of the Azienda Agricola Demarie winery located in the Piedmont region.

The Demarie winery, owner by Paolo Demarie, is located in Vezza d'Alba, which is part of the Roero district. Their vineyards are spread out across 20 hectacres (50 acres) in the towns of Vezza, Guarene, Castellinaldo and Castagnito. The Demarie winery is run by 3 generations.
Paolo, owner of Azienda Agricola Demarie
Paolo, owner of Azienda Agricola Demarie, by Valerie Quintinilla
Luckily many of the wines I received were focused on the nebbiolo grape, one of my favorites. I have more to share in the upcoming months, but today wanted to highlight two of the Demarie nebbiolo wines and do a comparison of them:
  • 2013 Demarie Langhe Nebbiolo
  • 2012 Demarie Nebbiolo d'Alba
As you all know terroir is one of the major factors in the result of a final wine in addition to the choices made by a winemaker inside the production facilities when it comes to fermentation and aging methods. Piedmont is one of those regions in Italy where terroir is so important, especially in the cru sites of Barolo and Barbaresco, as it produces many different styles of nebbiolo. Nebbiolo expresses itself throughout the rest of Piedmont in many different styles. These two wines are from the Langhe DOC and Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC.

The Langhe DOC
The Langhe DOC encompasses the areas north and south of the town of Alba. Many grape varieties are produced in this area and it's considered the fallback DOC of the DOCG of Barolo, Barbaresco and Roero. Therefore, producers that label with the DOC have less stringent regulations and more flexibility.

The Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC
The Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC on the other hand must be made of 100% nebbiolo. This is a much more affordable wine with many of the typical characteristics of nebbiolo. It's aged only a year in comparison to the DOCG versions aged 2+ years depending upon which DOCG we are talking about. If you've never had a nebbiolo grape this would be a good place to start to experience it before moving on to the some of the big boys of the region.\

Demarie wines of Piedmont2012 Demarie Nebbiolo d'Alba 
Made of 100% nebbiolo grapes.  This wine goes through malolactic fermentation in large slavonian oak casks for 8 months followed by 8 months in the bottle. Deeper ruby red in color with a hint of licorice on the nose. A medium body with dark fruit with more present tannin and balanced acidity. It's recommended by Demarie to be aged up to 5 years. ABV 14.5%.

2013 Demarie Langhe Nebbiolo 
Made of 100% nebbiolo grapes.  A brilliant ruby red, it's a medium bodied wine with juicy red fruit and a mouthwatering acidity. Drying tannin on the finish.  A more delicate wine compared to the Nebbiolo d'Alba.  

Wine pairing with Nebbiolo
From time to time I will write about wines to pair with your meals, but I just as much enjoy sitting there with a bottle of wine and enjoying some delicious appetizers. And of course I'll always look up regional foods to pair with the bottle of wine that I choose to drink that night. Cured meats are always a great pairing in Italy with many of the reds so I chose salami as one of the appetizers that paired well with the 2013 Demarie Langhe Nebbiolo. 
Demarie Langhe Nebbiolo pairing with Salami
I found the Langhe Nebbiolo much more approachable in its youth. The other dish I prepared was bruschetta topped with gorgonzola and walnuts drizzled with honey. Very typical ingredients of the region and paired well with the 2012 Demarie Nebbiolo d'Alba. The Nebbiolo d'Alba's tannins were very present in the wine and I felt the creaminess of the gorgonzola helped to cut through some of that.
Demarie Nebbiolo d'Alba pairing with bruschetta
It's all about playing around with pairings and finding what you like. I hope you get to sample nebbiolo for yourself if you haven't yet. If you have, what are some of your favorite areas of Piedmont for nebbiolo and any favorite pairings?


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Choice: The becomings of a wine blogger



monthly wine writing challenge


I'm participating in my 1st monthly wine writing challenge (#MWWC19). This is a monthly challenge put on by the Drunken Cyclist where a theme of the month is selected by the previous month's winner and wine writers interpret that theme in their own style. It's purpose is to get wine writers to challenge themselves and be more creative. As wine writers we're always writing about winery visits, wine tastings, meetings with winemakers, etc. that it's good to force us to think outside the box and focus on the writing itself. This month is the 19th challenge and the theme of this month is choice, selected by last month's winner, Elizabeth of Traveling Wine Chick.   

Vino Travels Italian wine blogger

We all make many choices in life that can take us in all different directions. You may have hit a point in your life wondering if you made a different choice at a crossroads how different your life would've been if you chose the other path. My journey and choices through the wine world have led me so far to where I am today and it's been a whirlwind of a ride. I never would've thought that I'd be a wine blogger and some days I ask myself why I got into this when I work a fulltime job and spend the nights writing and building relationships, but in the end I'm grateful for the opportunity it has presented and made me a better person.



My beginning in the wine industry

After living in Italy for a short period of time 14 years ago this month, wow how time flies, it opened my eyes to the wine world. I further was intrigued as I began making annual trips to the Finger Lakes wine region in upstate New York introduced to me by one of my good friends that used to work for the Fox Run Vineyards. I was curious about what it was to work in the wine industry at that point, but not being local to a wine region living in the Boston area I figured the best way to immerse myself in the business, while still holding down my career, was to chose to work at a retail wine shop part time. This way I was surrounded by wine, talking about it, drinking it and establishing contacts within the industry.

Visiting the Finger Lakes wine region
My husband and I at the Finger Lakes

I worked in wine retail part-time for 5 years until I bought my first home and moved further away. I tried to continue to study the Italian language and the world of wine and I was completely overwhelmed. Plus, I was not doing each one to my full potential. I chose to take some Italian classes for about 4-5 years and focus on that for the time instead. Still practicing to this day as it's a never ending process, I felt it was time to get reimmersed in the wine industry. This is when my blog, Vino Travels, began. Shortly after I started my blog I even gave selling wine part-time for an Italian wine importer a chance, but there are a whole set of reasons why that wasn't the path that I wanted to go.



I felt that if I started a blog it would force me to read and research wine continuously every week. Boy I didn't know what I was getting into. I started just writing about wines I was trying that I really enjoyed, so if you look back through my very first blogs you'll see blogs about wines from all over the world, but I felt that I still was trying to take on too much all at once. I sat down and figured I needed to make a choice about the direction that I wanted to head towards and what the goals of my blog were really going to be.

Italian wine blogger
My travels through Piedmont

Why an Italian wine blog?

I had been to Italy a multitude of times, had been to many regions, understood the language and probably had the best understanding of Italian wine. Plus, being of Italian heritage and meeting so many great winemakers throughout Italy I wanted to tell their story and open the eyes of wine drinkers around the world that wine life isn't all about cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and merlot. What better focus for me than on Italian wines. I had so many stories to tell of all the winemakers I had met, my favorite grapes and wines I tasted along the way. And so Vino Travels was born and is in it's 2nd year. I'm grateful for the opportunities that have come my way and the connections I have made around the world. I'm also excited about what tomorrow brings and I still feel that there is more to come with my future in the world of wine. It was the best choice I've made to this day.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sicilian volcanic wine pairing: Pasta alla Norma with Giovi Nerello Mascalese

I'm thrilled that this month's Wine Pairing Weekend (#winepw) is featuring wines that are grown on volcanic soil. There are wines grown all over in Italy that grow grapes on volcanic soil including the regions of Campania, Basilicata and Lazio, but one of the best known regions for volcanic soil is Sicily. Home to Sicily's active volcano, Mt. Etna, it's one of the tallest in Europe standing at 10,890 feet. So when introduced to the topic this month I immediately had the perfect story and wine to share as I recently met Giovanni La Fauci from the Giovi winery in Sicily that is producing wines on Mt. Etna.
Giovanni La Fauci and Giovi winery in Mt. Etna
The La Fauci family.  Right to left: Mariella, myself, Giovanni and Giuseppe
Giovanni is the owner and winemaker and was accompanied by his lovely wife Mariella and son Giuseppe. This was their first visit to Boston and he shared one of his wines at a wine tasting, degustazione, at a local Italian wine shop, Vino Italiano, that I've written about for my wine column in the Bostoniano, “Italy Uncorked”. The one thing I can say from meeting Giovanni is #1 make sure you know Italian as I got to test out my skills from our conversation and #2 is if you have passion for something it will carry you through life with much pleasure and satisfaction. Giovanni's outgoing personality and strong enthusiasm when talking about his wines and the growing of grapes on Mt. Etna was very apparent. Even if you were on the other side of the room you could tell from his body language and flailing arms how passionate he is about what he does. After all, Italians do talk not only with words, but with their hands and I can highly attest to that myself.
Giovi Akraton Nerello Mascalese
Since 1987 Giovanni has been known for his production of grappa at his distillery in Messina, Sicily. Today, still involved in grappe production, he also now produces wine sourcing it from different vineyard sites and selecting the grapes for the production of his wines. Giovanni shared with me his Giovi Akatron Etna Rosso, which is 100% made of the nerello mascalese grape. Typically nerello mascalese is blended with nerello cappuccio, but I always enjoy tasting a grape 100% in its true form as it gives you a great sense of the specific characteristics to the grape itself. Giovanni's grapes grow on about 75 year old vines. I have to say that sadly I have yet to have many wines from Etna, but they have been at the top of my list of wines to seek out and I was very impressed with the Akatron. It was a powerful, robust wine that demonstrated elegance combined with a pure expression of fruit.
Giovi Akraton Etna Rosso
How exactly does volcanic soil influence wine?
One of the hottest regions in the Italian wine world today, literally. Who would've thought that one would grow grapes on the soil of a volcano, nevermind an active volcano. One of its challenges are hand harvesting, which is time consuming and expensive, but due to the altitude of where these vineyards are situated it's the only option. So why grow wine on volcanos? Volcanic nutrients within the soil are imparted through the vines to the grapes creating minerality. Growing grapes at these altitudes also provides a lot of fluctuations in temperatures from day to night which is favorable to winemaking. The soil here is also sandy, which has helped to prevent the disease of phylloxera from entering this wine region and wiping out the rootstock as it did with the rest of Europe so the vines here are very old producing more mature grapes. I spoke more about this recently on my podcast with Rick Zullo on an introduction to Italian wines when we discussed Sicily.

Food pairing with Nerello Mascalese
Sicily's cuisine is rich in seafood as well as lamb and an abundance of vegetables including one of my favorites, eggplant. Thinking of the flavors in the Akatron I gravitated to a very popular dish of Sicily, Pasta Alla Norma. Pasta Alla Norma is a perfect dish if you're hosting any evening with guests that include vegetarians, but is also pleasing for all guests, especially lovers of eggplant since this is the main ingredient in the dish. The name of the dish actually derives from a famous opera by Bellini called Norma. Story has it that the famous writer, Nino Martoglio, sampled this dish comparing it to Norma, and hence originated the name of the dish. It's a very simple and straightforward dish to prepare, but packed with flavor.

Pasta Alla Norma
A very authentic Italian cookbook that I have owned for years, Italy: The Beautiful Cookbook, I have never really used much until writing Vino Travels and got involved in wine and food pairings. It not only has very traditional foods of each particular region throughout Italy, but the photos are eye catching. The pasta alla norma dish that I prepared came from this recipe book stated below with some small changes.

Ingredients
Penne or pasta of your choice (I chose rigatoni)
Fresh Roma tomatoes
1 large eggplant diced
½ onion chopped
Ricotta cheese
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Parsley
Fresh basil

Preparations
  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in saute pan. Once heated, add minced garlic, onions and fresh roma tomatoes or I actually used cherry tomatoes from my weekly farmshare.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook ingredients until translucent.
  2. Add diced eggplant to prior ingredients. You will probably need additional extra virgin olive oil. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until eggplant is tender.
  3. Boil water and add pasta. Once completed to designated time on the package add to the saute pan and mix ingredients together.
  4. Serve and top with fresh basil and dollops of ricotta.
eggplant pasta alla normapasta alla norma
Wine and Food Pairing with Pasta alla Norma
It doesn't matter ultimately whether you check out the volcanic wines of Sicily , other regions within Italy or the world, but to never have experienced volcanic wines would be a shame. There is so much to learn when you sample wines from different soils and the wines of Mt. Etna is a perfect demonstration to what those characteristics are.



Here's what the #winePW crew posted about volcanic wines...
Come chat with us...
#winePW Twitter Chat September 12, 11 a.m. ET: Connect with us on twitter, using hashtag #winePW. We'll chat for an hour about volcanic wines, food pairings, and #scorchedterroir.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Terramane with Cerelli Spinozzi

Earlier this week I provided a brief overview of the Abruzzo region highlighting it's terrain, typical food and wines. Today for our 11th #ItalianFWT event our group of bloggers present to you our experiences through food, wine and travel to this region.

Grapes of Abruzzo
The top grapes of this region including the white grape, trebbiano d'abruzzo, also know as ugni blanc in France. It's a high acid wine, without much flavor extracted and is usually light and crisp with apple flavors. The rose' produced in the region is known as cerasuolo d'abruzzo made of the montepulciano grape that is a hearty rose' with notes of dried fruits and strawberries. Above all dominating the region's well known wines are montepulciano d'abruzzo. A late-ripening variety it's deep colored, plump, low acid and an accessible wine in its youth. About two thirds of the production comes out of the Chieti province.
Map of the Abruzzo wine region
Abruzzo wine region map copyright of Federdoc
The 1 DOCG of Abruzzo
There is plenty of everyday montepulciano produced under the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC that can be simple and juicy depending upon the producer, but if you're looking for some of the top quality montepulciano of this region seek out the 1 DOCG known as Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane in the north. It was granted this status to differentiate itself from the rest in 2002. 

The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from the Colline Teramane DOCG requires 90% montepulciano and 10% sangiovese.  The regular Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from this DOCG is required to be aged 2 years where the riserva has an extra year at 3 years.To learn more about the wines from this DOCG check out the Consorzio di Tutela Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane site.

I'm sharing with you a wine from the producer, Cerelli Spinozziwhom is located close to the Gran Sasso mountains. It's their 2009 Tenuta Cerelli Spinozzi Torre Migliori Montepucliano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG. According to Banfi Wines, “Cerulli owns 10% of the DOCG's 100 hectacres” and the Torre Migliori comes from this specific area. This wine is made 100% from the montepulciano grape.

2009 Cerulli Spinozzi Torre Migliori2009 Tenuta Cerelli Spinozzi Torre Migliori Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
Color: ruby red
Nose: Earthy, dark fruit, black cherry, spices
Palate: Medium body, dry, warm (14% alcohol), smooth, good acidity and tannin
Aging: 2 years in oak and an additional 6 months in the bottle.
Retails $17 (Wine Searcher)

About Tenuta Cerelli Spinozzi
Tenuta Cerelli Spinozzi is a joint venture of two families, Cerelli Irelli and Spinozzi. The winery was started by the two Cerelli Irelli brothers, Francesco and Vincenzo, in 2003 and is today run by Enrico, the son of Vicenzo. His approach to winemaking and running the winery today consists of replanting the vines, while tending to some of the 30 year old vines at low yields to produce higher quality grapes. He has enabled the consulting wine expertise of famous consultant, Franco Bernabei.

Organic in their winemaking, Tenute Cerelli Spinozzi produces wines made from the montepulciano, pecorino, trebbiano and chardonnay grapes. Their two vineyard sites are located in Canzano and Mosciano with about 50 acres in total situated near the Gran Sasso mountains. The Abruzzo region is mostly dominated by co-ops by about 85% and Enrico's grandfather is known for being the founder of Casal Thaulero, one of the large cooperatives in Abruzzo.

I hope you get to experience the quality montepulciano grape from the Teramane area so you can decipher the major difference between your everyday montepulciano and those of the DOCG.
Colline Teramane DOCG wines of Abruzzo
Colline Teramane ~ Hills of Teramane by Silvia Malatini
Follow along the Abruzzo journey with my other Abruzzi fans and make sure to join us next month on October 3rd as we will be covering the region of Umbria.  You can also chat with us live this Saturday morning 9/5 at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT.  Hope to see you there!

Rockin' Red Blog - The Natural Wonders of Abruzzo
Italophilia - An American in Abruzzo
Confessions of a Culinary Diva - Abruzzo Comfort Food & Wine
Cooking Chat - Pizza Pairing: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo for #ItalianFWT
The Wining Hour - 3 Wine & Food Pairings with Gusto from Abruzzo
Food Wine Click - Aruzzo 1st Course: Farro and Butternut Squash Soup with Passerina
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Polpi in Purgatorio
Enofylz Wine Blog - Grilled Lamb Lollipops with Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Tralcetto

Ciao ciao for now.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Italian Food, Wine & Travel (#ItalianFWT) explores Abruzzo

This month for our 11th #ItalianFWT (Italian food, wine and travel) group we feature the region of Abruzzo. Abruzzo is a rather central region in Italy surrounded by Le Marche to the north, Lazio to the west, Molise to the south and the Adriatic Sea to the east. The Apennine mountain chain that runs throughout Italy from north to south, culminates here at the highest peak, the Corno Grande in the Gran Sasso. Its rugged beauty dominates the region and is perfect for the lovers of outdoors activities.
Corno Grande in Gran Sasso Abruzzo
Corno Grande in the Gran Sasso of Abruzzo by Alessandro Malatesta
According to Vino Italiano by Joseph Bastianich, Abruzzo's “annual wine output is almost double that of Tuscany even though Tuscany has nearly twice as much vineyard area.” It's one of the top 5 wine producing regions by volume. It's most notable grapes for whites are trebbiano d'abruzzo, for reds montepulciano d'abruzzo and for rose' cerasuolo d'abruzzo.

The cuisine of this region is mostly mountainous rich with sheep and lamb so much of the cuisine is focused on meats including many variations of lamb, sausage and salumi. If you've ever heard of the pasta, spaghetti alla chitarra, it is associated mostly with the Abruzzo region. The region offers us spices such as saffron, zafferano, and those sugar covered almonds that we love served at weddings known as confetti di Sulmona.
Spaghetti alla chitarra
Spaghetti alla Chitarra by Fugzu
Saffron or zafferano
Saffron, Zafferano by Zoyachubby
Our group has lots to share with you from our travel to this region along with our love of food and/or wine. So come back this Saturday to read our personal journeys through Abruzzo and join us for an online live Twitter chat at #ItalianFWT at 11am EST and tell us about your travel experiences, favorite places and/or some of your favorite wines or food from Abruzzo. Here is a preview of what is to come:

Vino Travels – The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Terramane DOCG with Cerelli Spinozzi
Rockin' Red Blog - The Natural Wonders of Abruzzo
Italophilia - An American in Abruzzo
Confessions of a Culinary Diva - Abruzzo Comfort Food & Wine
Cooking Chat - Pizza Pairing: Montepulciano d'Abruzzo for #ItalianFWT
The Wining Hour - 3 Wine & Food Pairings with Gusto from Abruzzo
Food Wine Click - Aruzzo 1st Course: Farro and Butternut Squash Soup with Passerina
Culinary Adventures with Camilla - Polpi in Purgatorio
Enofylz Wine Blog - Grilled Lamb Lollipops with Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Tralcetto