Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
Production Area: Colline Teramane is a designated area in the north-west of Abruzzo close to the border with Le Marche, around twenty miles inland from the Adriatic. The grapes used to produce this wine must come from specified plots on the Colline Hills close to Teramo at an altitude of no more than 550 meters above sea level.
Minimum Age before release: 2 years ageing is required before the standard bottling can be released with a minimum of 1 year in oak. For the Riserva wines, 3 years ageing is required with the same amount of minimum oak.
Permitted Grapes: Wines must contain a minimum 90% Montepulciano grapes grown from within the permitted DOCG region but producers are permitted to blend with a maximum of 10% Sangiovese, also grown within the DOCG, if desired.
Other restrictions: Minimum alcohol of 12.5%
Profile: Back in 2003, some questioned whether the region’s wines were distinct enough to qualify for an upgrade to DOCG status. If they didn’t warrant the classification in 2003, by 2013 the producers have stepped up to the DOCG mark. Instead of the quality warranting the classification, the bestowing of the DOCG has improved the quality of wine production and helped to give this wine a unique character.
Wines from Colline Teramane tend to load even more dark fruit than generic MdA DOCs, they are richer and more generous of fruit, bolder in colour with greater depth and concentration and many possess the structure needed for the ability to age. The wines are muscular yet smooth and caressing.
Food Pairings: These rich, fruit forward wines with their bold acidity pair well with a variety of dishes including spaghetti and ragu, lamb and duck and, for something special and uniquely Italian; Ossobuco alla Milanese. Unsurprisingly, the wine also pairs well with Pecorino cheese.
In 2013: Ten years after Abruzzo received its first, and at the time of writing, only DOCG classification, the wines have matured into their status marvellously. In 2003, many eyebrows were raised when the hills of Teramane were designated officially the very best place to grow the Montepulciano grape in Abruzzo. It was suggested that the upgrade from DOC to DOCG was awarded less for quality earned than the hope that the producers of the region would step up to the mark and pound this wine into DOCG shape.
Since going DOCG, the wines from Colline Teramane are undeniably better than the wines from pre-2003 and it’s not just the Nicodemi, Farnese and Illuminatis of this world producing quality wines and enjoying the benefit of the upgrade. With the incentives of potentially elevated prices and the challenge of producing DOCG quality wines several other estates are turning out top quality Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines that are, as yet,undiscovered and therefore relatively cheap.
The History of the Hills
Polibio, the Greco-Roman historian of antiquity informs us that the great Hannibal and his army rested upon the hills near Teramo, looking toward the Adriatic, rested, then fortified themselves with the local wine of the area. Hannibal had been doing pretty well up until that point, so we won’t pass comment on whether this little anecdote is supposed to point to the quality of the wine though it does enlighten the reader to the fact that wine has been produced on this spot for millenia, and, if you do anything for millenia, chances are you’re going to get pretty good at it.
It’s no coincidence that good wines often come from the oldest vineyard sites, they are naturally predisposed to productivity though not exclusively to excellence. The techniques a wine maker can rely on today to get through a difficult vintage did not exist in Roman times. (Probably, we think, though they had under floor heating and I don’t.)
So, a DOCG wine by design rather than fate (no matter what Hannibal did next), nevertheless today these wines offer some of the best value in Italian wine. Particularly loved for their bold, muscular/finesse and fruit forward style, it is the structure within these DOCG wines that set them apart from some other fat MdAs. Colline Teramane wines, in a good vintage, in careful hands, proffer a sure finesse; a signature of a fine wine.
The Wine Makers of the Colline Teramane
There are over 60 estates producing Colline Teramane DOCG wines, the best come annually from the same three producers, Nicodemi, Illuminati and Farnese. However, recent gate crashers have been scooping up some impressive awards and vying with the established triumvirate adding a little competition and helping to push the quality skyward.
This rise in quality hasn’t yet been followed with a deserved rise in prices, so a bargain or two is in the offing. Look out for wines around the £7-£12 mark from San Lorenzo, Monti, Cerulli Irelli Spinozzi and Montori Camillo in the UK. Please feel free to add any other great finds to the comments.
The Best Wines of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
These are some of my favourite wines of Colline Teramane. With prices ranging from £10 for an everyday drinking wine and solid example of a Colline Teramane to the really very special Illuminati Pieluni, which, at £25 is undervalued and on occassion a truly top class (94 Point) wine.
- Illuminati Pieluni – £25
- Illuminati Zanna – £15
- Farnese Opi – £15
- Villa Medoro Adrana – £20
- San Lorenzo Escol – £17
- Antonio & Elio Monti Pignotto – £12
- Cerulli Spinozzi Torre Migliori – £11
- Gran Sasso Alta Quota – £10