Abruzzo 1st Course: Farro & Butternut Squash Soup with Passerina #ItalianFWT
#ItalianFWT visits Abruzzo
This month on #ItalianFWT we’re jetting off to Abruzzo to explore the food & wine of the region. The region of Abruzzo sits very near Rome, however, the steep Apennine mountains divide the west side of Italy (Rome) from the east (Abruzzo). Historically, this made travel difficult, hence Abruzzo is barely known.
Abruzzo Fun Facts
Even though we hear little of the region, we’ve got people. Several famous people are from Abruzzo, either born there or their families were originally from Abruzzo. Examples include Madonna, Mario Batali (!), and Dean Martin. In case you’re thinking of visiting, Mario has a nice little summary with some good looking restaurant recommendations. Who can argue with Mario Batali! Also, the area has rugged mountains, multiple national parks and quiet seaside towns. Maybe a trip is in order!
The region grows some crops not found commonly elsewhere in Italy. Two great examples are farro, an ancient grain, and saffron. We love farro at our house. It’s very healthy and makes a nice, nutty chewy starch to include in a wide variety of meals.
First Course: Farro Stew with Butternut Squash
With summer on the wane, I thought a nice traditional Abruzzo soup would be a great first course to pair with a regional wine. This soup is very easy to make and tastes delicious, so make a big batch and freeze some for those colder days ahead.
Abruzzo White Wines
In Abruzzo, the most common white wine is Trebbiano, yawn. Even though we have a good selection of Italian wines from less known regions in Minnesota, I was unable to find any Trebbiano from Abruzzo on our shelves. However, I did find a wine made from an even lesser known white grape native to the region: Passerina.
Barone di Valforte Passerina Colli Aprutini IGT 2013 ($16 from South Lyndale Liquors)
Eye: Clear, palest off-white. Just a touch of lemon eggshell.
Nose: Fresh floral nose, underripe pear, a bit of pit fruit richness.
Mouth: Medium body, a bit mineral. When you just drink it, it seems a little flat, like low acidity. However, it does have a mouthwatering finish. Even though this wine wasn’t impressive at first, it grew on me, and now I’m thinking I might need to buy more. I can’t quite articulate why, it just tasted good.
The Barone di Valforte Passerina paired beautifully with the farro & butternut squash soup. The soup is full of nice grain and vegetable flavor, but it isn’t rich like a cream based soup would be. Filling, yes, but fatty, no. The wine’s medium body and refreshing finish was the perfect complement, cleansing the palate.
Second Course: Lamb Chops with Grilled Autumn Vegetables
While not a dish from Abruzzo, the grilled lamb chops and veggies were a nice complement to a wonderful red wine from the only DOCG in the region.
The Montepulciano grape suffers from an identity crisis in Italy.
- Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – a very nice red wine from Tuscany made near the town of Montepulciano. But the principal grape in the wine is Sangiovese (like Chianti), not Montepulciano
- Rosso Conero – Top red wine from Le Marche region must be at least 85% Montepulciano, but the grape name doesn’t appear on the label.
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Finally, the wines are predominantly made from Montepulciano, in the Abruzzo region. whew.
This is the wonder that is Italian wine naming!
Within the Abruzzo region, there is a large area which can produce Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC wine. A much smaller delineated area in the north of Abruzzo produces a DOCG (highest classification) wine with the sub-region in the name: Colline Teramane. While it’s easy to pick up a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo for under $10, don’t mistake that wine for a wine from Colline Teramane, they just aren’t the same.
Castellum Vetus Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG 2008 ($34 from South Lyndale Liquors)
Eye: Barely cloudy, possibly unfiltered. Dark dark dark, just a bit of color on the edge. Tending toward warm tones after several years in the bottle.
Nose: Blue/black fruit, blackberries, a bit of oak influence but not overly so. A bit of vanilla, sweet impression, but very restrained.
Mouth: Dark rich fruit, peppery finish. Nice length.
I like this wine a lot, just on the edge of being too impacted by the oak, but dials it back just a bit. The rich, finely oak influenced wine was a nice pairing for the grilled flavors and fatty goodness of the lamb chops and veggies on a late summer evening.
Follow along the Abruzzo journey with my other Abruzzi fans during our chat this Saturday morning at 10am CDT on Twitter at #ItalianFWT. Hope to see you there! After the chat, please go and visit my fellow bloggers posts on this lesser known region:
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
Culinary Adventures with Camilla – Polpi in Purgatorio
Enofylz Wine Blog – Grilled Lamb Lollipops with Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Tralcetto
Join us on October 3rd with our exploration of Umbria!
This recipe is adapted from one in “The Southern Italian Farmers Table“. This book is a nice resource if you’re interested in regional dishes typically served in inns and agritourismos. Ingredients Instructions
Farro & Butternut Squash Soup
This recipe is adapted from one in “The Southern Italian Farmers Table“. This book is a nice resource if you’re interested in regional dishes typically served in inns and agritourismos.