Friday, September 27, 2019

Celebrating Abruzzo Wines with the Ferzo Passerina, Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Caldora Chardonnay #ItalianFWT

For the month of October, #ItalianFWT bloggers are invited to explore Abruzzo wines with Dave from Cooking Chat. It was also awesome to receive some wine samples of this region from Donna White through the support of Gwen from Wine Predator. Thank you all for making this pairing experience so easy and enjoyable. Having the Ferzo Passerina, Citra Montuplciano d’Abruzzo and Caldora Chardonnay in hand, let the celebration begin!

Abruzzo is located between the Adriatic Sea and the massifs of Gran Sasso d’Italia and Majella. Blessed with the strong temperature contrasts between day and night as well as the good ventilation, the terroir ensures an ideal microclimate for the vines and produce grapes of high quality. Approximately 65% of the region is situated in the inland mountain region and is distinguished by a continental climate, while the rest is the coastal area that has broad hilly strip and mild climate.
Photo Credit: Wine Folly
Montepulciano is one of the most widespread indigenous grape varieties in the region and represents more than half the regional vine base. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo alone represents over 80% of the total number of DOC wines produced in Abruzzo and is one of the top three DOC wines produced in Italy. This is followed by the white grape Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, another protagonist in Abruzzo’s wine history. There are also a series of native, national and international grape varieties such as Passerina, Pecorino, Cococciola and then Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot.


Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOP 2017 ($10 SRP)*

Wine Description
Codice Citra was founded in 1973 when 3,000 small family growers decided to unite to form a winery dedicated to quality. The property, with its 6,000 hectares—14,800 acres—covers the majority of the Chieti province. Since its foundation, Codice Citra has focused on cultivating the most important, indigenous grape varieties within the province of Chieti.

About the Vineyard
These family owned properties, some with only one hectare, create a mosaic of small vineyards stretching north to south along the Adriatic coast and east to west from the sea to Majella Mountain. The range of climate and topography offers unparalleled quality and variety.

Wine Production
Hand-harvested grapes are vinified in stainless steel tanks with a long maceration at a controlled temperature. The must is frequently pumped over to intensify the aromatics and the color. The wine is then finished in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Notes
Deep ruby in color with purple highlights. Classic Montepulciano aromas of wild berry, dried herbs, and black pepper are framed by chewy tannin and bright acidity.

The Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is made of 100% Montepulciano grape. When thinking about what food to pair with this wine, many ideas came to my mind – roast beef, Guazzetto oxtail or aged cheddar cheeses. However, I decided to marinate pork belly in different sauces and seasonings, and put them on the grill, making the last use of the outdoor BBQ for the summer season.

The pork belly I picked up from Costco was pre-cut to ¼ inch thick and is around 12 inches long for each piece. I then cut them in half by length and marinated them with the sauces and seasonings overnight. The fun part for this dish was to marinate the pork belly in 8 different flavors, making a pork belly tasting flight. The marinating sauces/seasonings I used are chili sauce; ginger, scallion and salt; 5 spice and soya sauce; Montreal stick seasonings; salt and rice wine; fish sauce and dried onion flakes; fermented tofu sauce; and Hoisin and Oyster sauces. When grilling the pork belly, I started with the lowest heat to allow the meat to fully cook inside. After 20 minutes, I turned the grill to medium heat so the meat can pick up the charcoal flavor and color and became crispy. The Citra Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a perfect wine for the pork belly as its yeasty and blackberry flavors go so well with the deeply flavored pork. The bright acidity also cut through the fatty layer of the pork belly and made it extra juicy and light. I cut the pork belly up in cubes and it was amazing to see how fun it was to pop a pork cube in the mouth and sip this wine along, perpertually!

Passerina IGP Terre di Chieti 2017 ($26 SRP)*

Wine Description
Ferzo,” in Italian refers to a patch of fabric that, when stitched together with others, creates a sail. The union of the finest viticultural “patches” in Abruzzo gives life to Ferzo, a distinctive line of wines which embody the best of region’s indigenous grape varieties.

About the Vineyard
The vineyards that source Ferzo Passerina are found in the rolling hills that stretch between the Adriatic Sea in the East to the Appenine Mountains in the West. The relationship between mountains and sea is always felt in this part of Italy as temperature variations yield a constant breeze known here as the "brezza di terra".

Wine Production
Native to Abruzzo, the Passerina grape produces wines of tremendous character. The grapes are expertly farmed in pristine vineyards before undergoing a gentle pressing and 6-hour cold soak before fermentation in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes
Medium yellow in color, bursting with bright aromas of ripe stone fruit, mineral, citrus blossom, and freshly cut grass. Lively and aromatic with a balanced and refreshing finish.
Monkfish - Photo Credit:
To pair with this exclusive Ferzo Passerina, I have grilled some monkfish chunks. Don’t be fooled by monkfish’s monstrous look, it has a mild sweet taste and the texture of a lobster. It’s called a poor man’s lobster for a reason.  I asked the fishmonger to remove the skin of the fish and cut them in large chunks so it was suited for BBQ. I marinated the fish in finely chopped ginger and garlic for ½ hour prior to the grill. Skip or go light on the ginger if you don’t like the spicy taste of it. After putting the fish on the hot grill (medium heat), I seasoned with salt and pepper generously. The fish took about 20 mins to cook. Flipped the uncooked side of the fish after 10 mins. The Ferzo Passerina has an amazing white flower note on the nose. It was a great aperitif before the BBQ began. When it was time to enjoy the fish, the wine’s hint of sweetness like the ripe peaches, the robust texture and minerality interacted well with the ginger-marinated fish.

Caldora Terre di Chieti Chardonnay 2017 (SRP $11.99)

Wine Description
Delicate stalk-stripping and crushing. Pressing, static clarification, fermentation of clean must for 20 days at 12°C.
Caldora, part of Farnese Vini - Photo Credit:
About the Vineyard
Caldora is one of the largest cooperative wineries in the Abruzzo. Total holdings consist of around 1200 ha, in which only the best 200 ha are selected, vinified, and bottled under the Caldora name. The majority of these plantings are located within the Ortona area in a microclimate that runs through a 25 km band between the Adriatic coast and the 3000m high Mount Maiella.

Tasting Notes
Bright straw yellow. Intense with persistence. Perceptible aromas of tropical fruit. Full-bodied and balanced.

With the pronounced notes of tropical fruit in this Chardonnay, I think a plate of seafood risotto will be its ideal match. Using the Great British Chefs’ Risotto Recipe as a reference, I reduced the amount of cheese and made a lighter version of the seafood risotto. The Caldora Chardonnay is a no brainer with this seafood risotto as its medium body works really amazingly with the assortment of seafood, especially the succulent and buttery scallops.

When celebrating with Abruzzo wines, food is no doubt a crucial part of the experience!

Disclosure: The wines in this post are samples. All opinions are my own.

Join the #ItalianFWT Abruzzo Twitter Chat

On Saturday, October 5, at 11 am ET / 17.00 CST the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group will explore Wines from Abruzzo, and related food and travel, in the #ItalianFWT chat on Twitter. Enter the hashtag #ItalianFWT in the search field on Twitter and click Enter. Click “Latest” to show the latest live tweets.

Don't miss our blogger friends' posts about Abruzzo wines here: 


  1. What a fun tour through Abruzzo. And I have to say, I love monkfish! Yum!

  2. I absolutely LOVE the flavor fight for that pork belly and I have never tried monk fish but I'm going to be on the lookout from now on.

  3. Very nice pairings, I am sure the pork belly went well the Montepulciano wine.