Italy officially uncorks its Vino Novello (‘New Wine’ – think Beaujolais but Italian style) on the 11th of November, coincidentally the ‘festa di St. Martino’ (St Martin – ex Roman Solider turned Monk) who began the tradition of the middlemas advent. For those not in the know, these are the 40 days of fasting leading up to Christmas in the Middle Ages; obviously you would need a feast and some good wine before embarking on such a wintery detox!
Back to Abruzzo holidays, not only can you revel in the rich colour of the Abruzzo countryside as it whizzes you back to your childhood with sherbet pastels liberally sprinkling its sleepy and slightly frost-bitten vines, but you can enjoy these brightly coloured tannin-free, light (11% alcohol), fruity wines that shout cherries, blackberries, raspberries & figgy peaches – all the fruits of Abruzzo.
Local Abruzzo ‘Vino Novello’ is made by a process called maceration – this is where whole grapes are places in generally steel tanks with carbon dioxide for anything between 5-20 days. At this point the natural yeast in the skins of the grapes moves into the pulp looking for water & oxygen which is what causes fermentation, whereupon the grapes are crushed, fermented again & bottled in the normal manner after a few more days; it really is up to the individual winemaker (most of the homemade wine is made in this manner) … for that very reason don’t expect any woody notes in this type of wine.
These wines have an incredibly short store life, lasting through to no longer than Easter (if local popularity allows even that longevity). By giving the big restaurants a miss and visiting the local agriturismi instead for dinner you’ll increase the likelihood of being able to experience some of them. You’ll often know when you are drinking them as generally they are served chilled. They are delicious accompanied by a traditional side of roasted local chestnuts.