You’ve got to figure in a place with the history of viticulture and winemaking that Italy has, there might be some confusion (a lot actually) when it comes to nomenclature of any kind – hell, just think of the soda/pop/coke divide here in the U.S….So this installment’s confusion is with the grape, or rather grapes called”Trebbiano”…
The root of the name is the Latin word trebbianum which roughly translates as “the local variety”, so there are a good score or more “Trebbianos” growing all over Italy, some of which are kin, others of which are decidedly not. One of the most diffuse Trebbiano families (that include such sub-varieties like Trebbiano Giallo and Trebbiano di Toscano, et al.) is better and more commonly known by its French name Ugni Blanc. In France it’s used almost exclusively to make brandy, and in Italy, it figures into the blends of dozens appellations, in some cases to the wine’s ultimate benefit, in others, less so…this “Trebbiano” brings a fresh acidity to the mix, and a sort of pervasive neutral balance, but as a rule, little more than that.
The good news is is that this one ain’t that one! What this one “is” is a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo which is none other than the tentpole white grape variety in the mountainous Abruzzo region in central Italy. Anyone who has become acquainted with a glass of this supposed “Trebbiano” iteration knows that it is anything but neutral. Recent genetic testing has revealed Trebbiano d’Abruzzo to be identical to a somewhat obscure though pervasive south-central Italian variety called Bombino Bianco. And though Bombino Bianco is used in white wine blends (and a precious few single variety bottlings too) in Campania, Molise, Puglia, and Calabria, only in Abruzzo is it so foundational, and ironically under the mushy “Trebbiano” moniker.
So with this gregarious and incisive wine as a foil, I dished up a first course of fettuccine all’abruzzese (egg pasta with a simple sauce of onion, olive oil, pancetta, parsley, basil, and pecorino) followed by polpettine di tacchino ( little turkey and rosemary meatballs in a light, bay leaf scented creamy butter/wine sauce, with smothered savoy cabbage flavored with garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes as the contorno.
Cataldi Madonna Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2010
Very pale golden color with a greenish cast. Clean and expressive nose of fresh pineapple, kiwi fruit, lemon, ground ginger, candied citron, wet stones, and buttermilk. The medium body has a round but still clean, crisp, and spunky acidity with tidy flavors of green apple, cream soda, egg custard, and yellow cherries. Lingering zesty lime and quinine finish.