This week, we're looking at a grape popular in Italy and France, for very different reasons - it's Trebbiano!
You might not think so when you look at the name, but Trebbiano is the second most-planted grape in the world, and Italy's most commonly planted white wine grape. It's medium-sized green leaves and green-to-amber berries are most commonly found in Tuscany. In fact, it was once so popular in Italy that authorities had to allow it to be used in red wines, such as Chianti Classico. So, if it's so popular, why have so few people heard of it? The answer may be because, when vinified on its own, Trebbiano tends to produce largely unremarkable and easily forgettable wines that do not keep well. It does, however, produce a very nice acidity and citrus notes on both the nose and palate, so most Italian winemakers opt to blend it with other varietals, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Malvasia. There are also eight restricted wine-making regions (DOCs) in Italy that bear its name, such as the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo DOC and the Trebbiano di Soave DOC. Trebiano must make up a significant percentage (usually over 50%) of any wine that wishes to be classified under any of these DOCs.
When it's not being used in the production of an Italian white wine, Trebbiano can be found under the name of Ugni Blanc in France, where it is used to make brandy, armagnac, and cognac. It's high acidity allows it to produce smooth spirits via distillation, and it is used in all manner of spirits, from inexpensive eau-de-vie to top-shelf cognac. It is also frequently used in white wines in Provence a
nd Gascony. Trebbiano/Ugni blanc wines pair well with curries, dark fish, and other spicy dishes, as well as Brie, Camambert, and English Cheddar.
The Short Version
Names: Trebbiano, Ugni Blanc, Albano, Thalia
Flavour Profile: High in acidity with citrus and floral notes.
Best-Known Regions: Tuscany, Marche, other Italian regions, Cognac, Armagnac, Provence.
Price Range: $15-$40
Food Pairings: Curry, Fish, English Cheddar, Brie