Trebbiano wine guide: all you need to know about the most important Italian white wine
Trebbiano is a white grape variety that has traveled and taken root all over Italy. You will find it in Tuscany, Romagna, Abruzzo, Lazio, and Umbria. After Catarratto it is the second white grape variety by extension of hectares, an unflattering record given that Trebbiano is often produced on an “industrial” scale.
But as in many other cases, it is not correct to speak about one single Trebbiano grape variety, but about a family. a large family, because this traveling white grape variety has adapted, changed, and taken on different characteristics and new faces.
In general, Trebbiano is a shy wine. It’s not very fragrant, it’s not very structured, and it doesn’t have a lot of aromas, but it has great acidity. And on this acidity, you can build simple, immediate, and pleasant wines like those in Romagna or dare and try to produce structured wines of great charm, as in Abruzzo. Let’s say it is a wannabe Chardonnay, but very derelict… It can be interpreted in a thousand different ways because it is resistant, flexible, and has a mild flavor that is easy to change.
There are differences, especially in terms of intensity and elegance, but it’s not just because of clones. It’s because of the soil. In Abruzzo, it is salty and zippy due to the rocky terrain, the altitude, and the influence of the sea. In Romagna, it is produced industrially with very high yields and is more of a kind of pale soft drink than a noble white wine.
The production areas of Trebbiano
But before going into the details of each Trebbiano, let’s see the main areas where it thrives. We have Trebbiano Romagnolo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano Spoletino, Trebbiano Giallo grown in Lazio, and Trebbiano Toscano, also used for the famous Vin Santo.
Let’s put an old idea to rest: the Trebbiano from Lugana or Soave that is mixed with Garganega is not Verdicchio. For years, it has been assimilated into the Trebbiano family, but in reality, it is not a member of the clan.
The history of Trebbiano
Once again, it is the encyclopedic Pliny the Elder who first speaks to us about the Vinum Trebulanum, speaking about the white wines produced in Capua, called Agro Trebulanis. Others say it comes from the Etruscans. If that’s true, it would have been the wine of the legionaries because it produced so much.
If we follow the “topographical theories,” it could be a wine born in the Trebbia Valley near Piacenza. or in one of the villages that remember its name, such as Trebbo, Trebbio, or Trebbiolo.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We don’t know, but we do know that after the Romans took over Italy, it became a main food for the Romans.
The bouquet of the Trebbiano wine
The nose is very delicate, with little variety and depth: pears, flowers, apples, acacia, lavender, mandarin, citrus, and possible notes of honey. But we are examining the full aromatic spectrum, and only in rare and striking cases is it so rich.
What does Trebbiano wine taste like?
On the palate, it might have good acidity, a medium body, a subtle flavor, and not a lot of staying power, but enough. It is not as opulent as Chardonnay. It is a classic case of “Jack of all trades, master of none”: if well made, it’s decent, rarely great, and too often battered by ugly productions.
Certainly the forerunner region for Trebbiano’s rebirth. Many wineries take the risk and offer more structured, mature, complex wines with excellent acidity and drinkability. The mountain climate, with its excursions, rocks, and sea, helps to characterize the wine. The cream of the crop: Valentini, De Fermo, Centorame, Agriverde, Feudo Antico, La Valentina, Emidio Pepe, Valle Reale.
Not a bad wine; it’s growing in quality and precision. For many years, it has been the region’s cornerstone, with its good body, excellent acidity, sparkling wines, tonic flavor, and aromatic variety. much used for blends, but some varietal wines are nice. The cream of the crop: Antonelli San Marco, Novelli Winery, Vinsanto della Palazzola, Perticaia, and Tabarrini.
Procanico, which is the code name for Tuscan Trebbiano, is also very common in Lazio, but it is almost always blended with other grapes.
the most deplorable area, battered by filthy mass production, which is responsible for the bad reputation. Some producers are trying to revive the fate of this yellow nectar. We await confidently, but we are light years from Abruzzo. The cream of the crop: Ancarani, Gallegati, Vigne dei Boschi, and Fondo San Giuseppe
We’d like to highlight Trebbiano Romagnolo, which is used to make two incredible niche products: Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Reggio Emilia. Yes, they are made with cooked trebbiano, so there is hope; we can dream!
Let’s finish our apology with Procanico, the cross and delight of Tuscany. If it is true that it participates in the production of Vin Santo together with Malvasia and Grechetto, we must say that they are rare and very small productions, true elixirs of pleasure. First the drying and then the particular refinement in small caratelli (100-liter barrels), placed under the roofs, completely transform it, giving rise to wine similar to sherry, of infinite elegance, full of fantastic aromas, and of incredible freshness.