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Trabocco, Abruzzo bubbles between territory, “pop” wine and winemakers’ remuneration

Reflections around the collective brand linked to the iconic trabocchi already narrated by D’Annunzio, at “Vincontri” by Vinco winery
Trabocco, Abruzzo bubbles toward the future

Enhancing the value of indigenous grapes through Abruzzo sparkling wines and the Trabocco collective brand, strongly anchored to one of the symbolic images of the Abruzzo sea, the trabocco precisely, an ancient fishing spot already narrated by Gabriele D’Annunzio that is often, today, transformed into a tourist and restaurant attraction, to integrate the wine offer of Abruzzo, which represents a real wine continent. Creating a “pop” sparkling wine that meets what consumers are looking for, while still capable of expressing identity, also open to the contaminations of mixology, an increasingly important channel, and which, not a secondary aspect, guarantees the right remuneration to those who produce the grapes. This is the summarizing message of the first appointment at “Vincontri - Debates and comparisons in the winery”, an initiative aimed at reflecting on the future of wine-making in Abruzzo, promoted by Vinco, the first winery of sparkling wines from native grapes in Abruzzo (which groups ten cooperative realities and more than 2,000 winemakers), which saw on stage, among others, Alessandro Regoli, director of WineNews (who stressed that Trabocco’s should not be just a commercial operation, but a cultural one), Fabio Piccoli (Wine Meridian), Denis Pantini (Nomisma), Luciano di Labio, Vinco president, and Giovanni Pasquale (Assoenologi Abruzzo Molise president). “The title of the reflection was”, declares Luciano Di Labio, Vinco president, “intentionally provocative: “Once upon a time there was Montepulciano d’Abruzzo”, but we absolutely do not want to question the glorious Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which will always be important for our region; however, it is essential to reflect with all the players in the Abruzzo wine world in order to chart together new paths and strategies that look to the future of Abruzzo wine. There are many changes taking place that push us to revise our productions by placing territory and biodiversity at the center through native grape varieties. Certainly bubbles and the Trabocco brand will play a central role because together they promote our identity”. “Data examined show that consumption of high-gravity red wines has significantly decreased in foreign and domestic markets. In addition, consumers of this type are mainly people of adult age with habitual consumption”, says Denis Pantini, Nomisma Wine Monitor manager. “There is much more attention to sustainability and the health aspect, see the extremes with no-alcohol wines. Contextually”, Pantini added, “we are seeing an increase in the consumption of white wines and bubbles. In this case, young people are the most frequent and numerous consumers, especially in “mixed” wine. Consumption is also changing: daily consumption is decreasing and occasional consumption is increasing. Red wine is suffering from declining habitual consumption, while sparkling wines are favored in occasional and collective drinking moments. Ultimately, climatic, social, economic and demographic changes are reflected in wine consumption, leading to a growth of sparkling wines at the expense of still reds, favoring lighter wines, from native grape varieties, low alcohol and sustainable. With respect to these new trends, Abruzzo wine has all the cards to play a good game in the national and international market scenario, diversifying its wine offerings through an enhancement of native grape varieties and the development of sparkling wines”. “I think we can talk”, says Alessandro Regoli, WineNews director, “about the “sociology of sparkling wine”. Sparkling wines fascinate young people, they are a “horizontal” wine, deseasonalized and cleared through customs in consumption, a wine for the whole meal. Bubbles represent celebration, conviviality, an Italian way of life that the whole world envies us. If we were to question authoritative anthropologists, I think they would define sparkling wines as “contemporary” wines: in the midst of a thousand difficulties, everyone is looking for moments of conviviality and celebration that punctually see sparkling wines as the protagonists, which go well with traditional dishes but also with contemporary cuisine, for gatherings for two or in company, important occasions or quiet evenings. They are contemporary because of their freshness, their gradation and their versatility, or perhaps because they are almost a wine-not-wine, so much so that they have come to replace it in so many occasions of consumption, which are now the exclusive prerogative of bubbles alone. Generation Z youth are less attached to wine and if they consume it, they do so with a focus on health and alcohol content. For the Abruzzo region of Montepulciano, Pecorino, Trebbiano, Cerasuolo (which in the downturn of world markets and consumption due to the difficult international conjuncture, are growing against the trend both in Italy and abroad), the decision to focus also on bubbles from native grapes, with the brand “Trabocco” is, surely, a good idea. But “Trabocco” is not and should not be only a commercial operation but also a cultural one. The word Trabocco itself is a piece of Abruzzo’s regional identity, like the ancient fishing machines, which boast an exceptional testimonial as the poet and intellectual Gabriele d’Annunzio who compared them to “colossal spiders”. A tool used by farmers to fish without moving away from the coast and staying on the sea: it is a matter of continuing on this path, of making a “pop” wine (but being careful about the fair remuneration of those who produce the grapes from which these bubbles originate) and building simple, but not trivial, contents that enhance Trabocco, while still tying it strongly to the territory, in a modern, contemporary, light-hearted, carefree way, and also remaining open to mixology”. “This title “Once Upon a Time There Was Montepulciano d’Abruzzo” puts a reflection at the center: clearly with Montepulciano we know where we started. The renaissance of Abruzzi wine, happened in the late 1990s with the affirmation of red wines”, says Giovanni Pasquale, President of Assoenologi Abruzzo Molise, “and we Abruzzese were ready to intercept this new style of consumption that was appearing globally with our wines that were well suited to accommodate these tastes: opulent, full-bodied and concentrated. Montepulciano is a great grape variety. In the 2000s it made us a player in a very positive phase of Italian wine. Today we are seeing a decline in consumption of red wines, which for a Region like ours offers concerns. But it is also true that we have solutions that have been put in place for a few decades. It is clear that Montepulciano has done its part and probably trailed the whole region, but there needs to be someone to take over. In recent years, Montepulciano has found excellent companions in the native grape varieties, which have eased its responsibility, and have become known and appreciated. Certainly the turning point in bubbles is confirmation of the great potential we have in the Abruzzo region; I am thinking of grape varieties such as Cococciola, Montonico, Passerina, and Pecorino that are well suited to this type of processing. But it is clear that Trabocco cannot be a mere commercial operation. Abruzzo needs something more to raise its game. Wine has so far had to tow a region. Montepulciano has been the first ambassador of Abruzzo in the world: it has had a function, even a social one, of growing and giving visibility to the region. It has been a very important task that Montepulciano has had, but perhaps it has also been a limitation because Abruzzo has always focused on this great grape variety and perhaps uncertain phases it had to dare and did not dare. The idea that we move from a grape variety concept to a territorial appellation concept is, surely, the most important breakthrough that could have been made in recent years. The idea of sticking to Montepulciano and defending it at all costs is something that has to be done, we will fight to the last for it, but we have to find a way out, which has been identified in the new appellations and new sub-areas. These emphasize the territorial designation first, so the centrality of the area designation is important. Even more central in this case is the Trabocco brand, which someone today recalled as the most iconic place in our Region, and has been made the testimonial of an ambitious project and one of the most current and important market trends, that of sparkling wines. For the first time we have put the territory and a strongly identifying symbol of the Region at the center. We all have to make an effort on this because the Abruzzo wine world “alone” goes nowhere. Challenges are won together if there is synergy with everything that circulates around it: tourism, catering, journalism, Entities and the Region. We may make Trabocco bubbles, but if there is no cultural growth, no general elevation, if we do not convey all that Trabocco represents when people come on vacation to Abruzzo, we risk that the project becomes a commercial operation for its own sake. That is why the experience that consumers bring back from their visit to Abruzzo is fundamental: what they associate with everything they bring back from a region. It is important for everyone to team up and work as a system to face the challenges that the future holds, especially here in Abruzzo where much of the production is entrusted to cooperation. To enhance our territory and our wine, we must continue to work with the new specifications and the Trabocco brand to ensure that those who come to Abruzzo, retain the flavor of our Land: their memory will be the best ambassador of our products”. A sparkling wine, Trabocco abruzzese, that rests on three cornerstones: exclusive use of native grapes (Montepulciano, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo or Sbagarina, Cococciola, Montonico, Pecorino and Passerina), which are well suited to the production of bubbles because of their high acidity and low alcohol content; supply chain entirely from Abruzzo; Italian Method. For a collective brand launched in 2023 by the Consorzio di Tutela Vini d’Abruzzo in 2023, which from a dream wants to become an important reality for viticulture in the area.

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