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Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Montepulciano and Montepulciano
I think we’ve all been confused at one time or another by Montepulciano on an Italian wine bottle. It is the name of a grape and of a town in Italy. According to Wine-Searcher.com the grape was named after the town and was once widely grown there.
Nowadays, the grape has found another home in Abruzzo, hence Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as being one of the most widely exported DOC classed wine in Italy (Wikipedia).
Abruzzo is a large area on the east coast. The local wine industry, according to Vino Italiano, is dominated by giant cooperatives of which Cantina Tollo (below) is one example.
Now let us return to the city of Montepulciano. This is in Tuscany, in the province of Sienna, and is one of the most attractive hill towns in the area.
The main grape grown here is Sangiovese (blood of Jove or blood of St Giovani or maybe something else entirely!). Only the very best grapes are used for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The others are used for Rosso di Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile has the big reputation but the simpler Rosso is no mean wine either as our example indicates.
Other grapes grown here, according to Vino Italiano, are Canaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Alicante (Grenache). No mention of the Montepulciano on that list, so you are highly unlikely to see a Montepulciano di Montepulciano. Let me know if you do!
Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015, 13%, €14.45 Le Caveau
This organic wine has quite a few admirers and I'm among them. Pascal Rossignol of Le Caveau, the importers: “The Bio wines are a great find. The wines are literally singing in the glass with their exuberant fruit and juicy flavours”. The winery itself says they are bursting with primary red fruit.
The fruit is hand-harvested and the wine is neither “fined nor filtered”. Colour is an attractive ruby. Aromas are mainly of red berried fruits. It is fruity and juicy and easy drinking. Lots of lovely fruit flavours, nothing extreme, mild tannins, well balanced and with good acidity. Class finish too, long and dry. Very Highly Recommended.
Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012, 14%, €17.45 Le Caveau
The Innocenti estate lies between Montefollonico, a walled city in Tuscany, and Montepulciano, just a short drive between them. This is a blend of Sangiovese (mainly), Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo and has spent six months in oak.
Colour is bright, and light, ruby. Generous aromas of stewed plums and a touch of heavier gamey notes. It is medium to full-bodied; that warm fruit is there, some spice too, really well balanced. Fine tannins noticeable on a long and dry finish. Very Highly Recommended.
See also (from current Italian series):
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Tanto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2011 (Italy),
12.5%, €9.00 - 11.00, Stockists
Colour: Deep red.
Nose: A pleasant wave of red fruit aromas.
Palate: soft and generous with sufficient refinement to belie its youth and to complement the dark fruits (mainly plum, for me). Add in a long smooth finish and this warm juicy delicious wine lives up to its name and delivers a lot. Good value. Highly recommended.
It is generally acknowledged that the generous Montepulciano grape "is hard to foul up". The Tanto producers have not messed up here. Worth keeping an eye out for that colourful label.
* In Italian, Tanto means “a lot”.
** If you head east from Rome through Lazio, cross over the Appenines, you’ll find yourself in Abruzzo with the Adriatic ahead of you.