Do you know the Trebbiano wine grape? Perhaps you know it as Ugni Blanc. Perhaps you don’t. That’s OK. Trebbiano is a high-yielding white wine grape from the Mediterranean, with its most significant plantings in Italy and parts of France. So what? Italian Trebbiano is produced in lots of different areas and at lots of different quality levels, with its fair share of quite poor examples. In France, Trebbiano is called Ugni Blanc and is used for inexpensive table wine blends. So what – who cares?
Trebbiano is a deceptively important wine grape, and here’s why:
3 reasons that Trebbiano is so important
Whether you’ve heard of Trebbiano or not, there’s a good chance that you’ve actually tasted it without knowing. If you’ve ever drank Cognac or Armagnac, chances are that you’ve drank Trebbiano. Cognac and Armagnac are located above and below Bordeaux, respectively, in south west France.
These regions are famous for producing premium brandy, which is essentially distilled wine. Trebbiano is the key wine grape grown in the vineyards of Cognac and Armagnac, and thus plays a key role in these spirits. Hennessy VS Cognac is the global reference point for Cognac, and a taste will show you just why Trebbiano is so important. The high acid grape, known locally as Ugni Blanc or St Émilion, contributes subtle and nuanced flavours to these brandies.
Speaking of France, Trebbiano is the most widely-planted wine grape in France. They call it Ugni Blanc, and it grows all over the place to make table wines too. You’ll find it in many Provence and Vin de Pays wines. Trebbiano can produce aromatic dry whites in large quantities, and so the wines are usually quite inexpensive.
It’s huge in Italy, too. Trebbiano and its clones and relatives are thought to account for a third of all wine produced in Italy. The grape is designated for use in around 80 individual DOC growing areas, and even has seven designated areas where it is the sole grape. Trebbiano is vital in the production of Orvieto, a very popular Italian wine.
What to drink instead of Trebbiano
Most Trebbiano wine is relatively light, straightforward and easy to drink. It’s unlikely to knock your socks off in flavour terms, so you have a lot of options for Trebbiano alternatives: Effectively, any light-bodied white wine will do. Try a young Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or Riesling and you’re unlikely to be disappointed – in fact, you might even be pleasantly surprised with some additional flavour. We’ve picked out a couple of our favourite crisp and fresh whites for you below.
Marqués de Riscal Sauvignon Blanc is a fresh, tasty and aromatic white wine from the Rueda region of Spain. The Rueda Sauvignon Blanc style continues to grow in popularity, and in large part this is due to the consistently strong wines from producers like Marqués de Riscal. This has some of the minerality and fruit flavours of Trebbiano, though offers additional complexity with herbaceous notes.
Gotim Blanc is another Spanish Sauvignon Blanc wine, this time from the lesser-known Costers del Segre region. This will please Trebbiano fans, but will beat most French and Italian Trebbiano wines hands down for its vibrancy and expressive fruit!
Do you like Trebbiano wines? Tell us your favourite in the comments below.