It's time for Abruzzo bubbles! The research project has begun that will lead to the development of sparkling wines from the indigenous grape varieties produced by the three thousand Codice Citra associate winegrowers. Montepulciano, Passerina, Pecorino, Cococciola and Montonico will all be presented in a new, festive version offering endless novel occasions for culinary combinations and enjoyment.
The idea is actually not new: it had been thought for some time that the five renowned Abruzzo cultivars were quite well suited to producing excellent sparkling wines to delight palates in Italy and around the world. The bubbles will allow these wines to express their notable characteristics in a new way, a way that is every bit as rich and impassioning as the one we already know.
In this strongly negative economic period, Codice Citra, the largest viticultural enterprise in Abruzzo, has teamed with the University of Teramo and the Centro di Ricerca Viticola ed Enologica d'Abruzzo (C.Ri.V.E.A.) in implementing a research and development project to valorize the newly emerging “Protected Designation of Origin” DOP Abruzzo. A territorial domain name that encompasses the range of varietal aptitudes that are expressed to the maximum of their potential through time-honored winegrowing and winemaking techniques.
Innovation and research are the guidelines for the project, intended to promote and bear witness to the intrinsic quality of the DOP Abruzzo production chain, which has everything it takes to become an important brand in Italy and abroad at the level of other territorial domain names.
The three team members will pool their capabilities and optimize the synergies that are generated. The University of Teramo will address all scientific aspects: from data gathering to pure experimentation and research. The information will be written up in the theses of students in scientific disciplines, who will be active players in the project along with their professors. C.Ri.V.E.A. will handle the part regarding enological technology.
Codice Citra, will contribute its know-how in the form of the network of agronomists and enologists in its member wineries. With the support of its over three thousand winegrowers producing the grapes involved in the experimentation, it will develop the sparkling wines.
As regards the use of the local area, the project has involved lands representing the vast extent of Codice Citra vineyards. Productive areas with varying pedological and morphological characteristics were selected, from coastal zones to the foothills, in order to characterize the specific growing conditions for this type of production.
The new sparkling wines will meet the general trend toward increasing consumption of these wines with respect to still wines, providing additional markets for regional products (Abruzzo DOP) and, as a result, significant improvement in the quality of local products.
Given the general trend towards a reduction in consumption of still wines, both whites and reds, and the opposite (although less pronounced) positive trend in the consumption of sparkling wines, the project should have significant economic benefits. The initiative is also in response to a market that shows increasing interest in natural wines and the use of indigenous grape varieties, in which Italy is so richly endowed, for making sparkling wines, especially among younger drinkers, who are not only today's consumers, but most importantly, also tomorrow's.
The production of the new sparkling wines begins in the vineyard (vine training techniques, assessment of yields, dormant pruning, green pruning, choice between organic or traditional cultivation, choice of harvest period, chemical analyses of grapes, environmental impact assessment, viticultural eco-sustainability) and continues in the cellars (production of white wine or rosé, effects of the two sparkling wine production techniques – Martinotti v. Traditional – chemical analyses of the wines), in the bottles (organoleptic description, sensory assessment) and on the tables of consumers (feedback).
An in-depth assessment of the suitability of the five grape varieties for producing sparkling wines will thus be obtained (with particular attention to Montepulciano), to determine the best blends and cuvées for producing the Abruzzo DOP bubbles.
The Abruzzo DOP sparkling wines will be produced using both processes: the Martinotti process (also known as the Charmat or Cuve Close Process), which involves secondary fermentation in tanks, and the Traditional Process, where secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.
The two processes are two complementary and synergetic components of the project. The Martinotti process will be used to produce "easy drinking" wines meeting the indispensable quality standards for competing on international markets. The Traditional process will be used to produce high quality bottles that will occupy the upper end of the market.