Raboso is a red wine grape varietal grown primarily in the north-eastern area of Veneto in Italy. The name Raboso is thought to derive from the Italian word ‘rabbioso’, which means angry - and also possibly a reference to how people reacted to the aggressive tannins and acid structure of those rustic wines.
Raboso is an ancient wine, produced from what is now a relatively rare varietal - which grew in north-eastern Italy even before the time of the Roman Empire. This is confirmed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia; he wrote that this area was producing Picina Omnium Nigerrima; which was an intensely dark coloured wine and the ancestor not only of Raboso, but of Terrano, Refosco and Friularo.
With the fall of the Roman Empire, the culture and knowledge of winemaking fell away. Only when Venice spread its civilisation to the mainland that the memory of this ancient wine was revived. Raboso was in the past the most cultivated red varietal of eastern Veneto; it was a wine consumed by Venetian navigators on their long travels around the world; they called it ‘vin de viajo’ (wine of travel), because it was the most resistant of wines to aging and sea-voyage. The varietal produces a deeply coloured wine, with notably high levels of natural acidity and tannins, but is low in alcohol. The varietal typically ripens late, though produces good yields with high resistance to fungal disease and rot.
Though its popularity decreased during the 20th century, and today the plantings of Raboso are about 2% of the total area of vineyards in the Veneto region.
After the Second World War, in 1949, Raboso was still the dominant wine in the area. In Sinistra Piave, Raboso Piave accounted for as much as 80% of wine made there, while the area between Motta and San Donà produced around 60% of the Raboso Veronese out of the total wine production of the area.
Between the 1950s and ‘60s, wine-growers in the Piave area favoured varietals that produced more marketable wines, especially in regard to red wines - Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The cultivation of Raboso Piave gradually declined and it was only in the 1990s that it was restored to popularity and gradually developed thanks to the ‘Confraternita del Raboso Piave’ (Confraternity of Raboso Piave) founded by a number of modern wine producers.
Raboso del Piave is a red wine produced in the Piave region - a wine that dates back many centuries, which also has reference in the 1st century from the writer/ historian Pliny the Elder. The traditional production zone spans across Treviso, from Conegliano to San Donà di Piave. The wine is quite rustic, with strong tannins and forward acidity during its youth. But like many traditional, rustic Italian red wines, these flavours and characters mellow with age and reward patience with rounded, rich flavours.
Today there are also are small plantings of Raboso to be found in Argentina, plus possibly a few other places around the world, though these are still to be confirmed by DNA testing - another interesting wine to look out for.