Showing posts with label Montepulciano. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Montepulciano. Show all posts

Friday, June 28, 2024

Lunaria Coste di Moro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. A wine more for conversation rather than contemplation!

Lunaria Coste di Moro Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) 2019, 14% ABV

€19.95 O’Briens Wine

a wine more for conversation rather than contemplation! 

There’s no seeing through the dark ruby red of this Montepulciano from Abruzzo. Red fruit on the nose. On the palate, it is soft and intense, slightly tannic with an

Friday, April 26, 2024

The perfect lighter red if you want a smooth and not too heavy Italian. Avignonesi Rosso di Montepulciano

Avignonesi  Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2019

€25.00 Bubble Brothers. ABV is 13.5%

The perfect lighter red if you want a smooth and not too heavy Italian.

This light ruby Rosso di Montepulciano introduces itself with red and darker berries aromas. It is well-balanced on the palate, lively and smooth, fruity with a touch of spice.  A lively acidity also features as the wine heads towards a pleasant finish. Pretty faultless from start to finalé, this vibrant and approachable red wine from Tuscany is Very Highly Recommended.

As importers and sellers Bubble Brothers say

Monday, July 31, 2023

Dangerously likeable! That's the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (as well as the cuddly doggy, of course).

Dangerously likeable! That's the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (as well as the cuddly doggy, of course).

Il Bucco Montepulciano D’Abruzzo (DOC) 2021, 12.5% ABV,

About €15.00. Widely available, including O’Donovan’s Off Licence and Bradleys.

Montepulciano is a popular Italian red grape found mostly labelled as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Not to be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano! That’s a completely different wine made of Sangiovese grapes from the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany (on the west coast).

Now that you know the grape, perhaps you already did 😄, you may be asking where is Abruzzo. Easy enough to answer that one. If you are in Rome, head east over the Apennines and you’ll land in Abruzzo; if you overshoot, you’ll get a soaking in the Adriatic.

This one by Il Bucco delivers cherry and berry on the nose and then typical black fruit flavours including plum and blackcurrant with a touch of sweetness on the finish. The length is good without being overly long. No doubt you’ll get better versions but not at this price.


Check my growing list of top wines for 2023


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The best examples deliver complex black fruit flavours and a smoky-sweet finish. The Vivino site recommends Beef, Pasta, Veal, and Pork as pairings. Bradleys of Cork, a local stockist, say it’s a great all-rounder to drink with pizza, pasta dishes, chicken and pork while Donegal’s Counter Deli suggests Tapas. Versatile, isn't it?

If you do fly over the mountains and end up at a restaurant in the region you could well be offered the local version of mortadella sausage, spicier and with more garlic than the Bologne version. For a few euro more, break out and go for the Abbacchio al Diavolo (spicy roasted lamb).  Vino Italiano says its soft tannins won't clash with the spice, “making the wine a fruity pillow for the fiery dish”!

This well-priced bottle, with the loveable doggy on the label, is very gluggable indeed and I've seen it described as delicious and dangerously drinkable. I would not argue with that. Great everyday drinking for small money.

Highly Recommended. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Virtual Tour and Taste of Maremma and Montepulciano with Antinori

A Taste of Maremma and Montepulciano

 with Antinori

Le Mortelle

We had the best of guides as we visited part of the amazing Antinori wine establishment last Wednesday, all online of course. Tindal’s Harriet Tindal MW introduced us to three “guides” in Italy: Filippo Pulisci of Antinori itself, Riccardo Checchi of La Braccesca vineyard and Georgia Dimitriou of their Le Mortelle estate.

Harriet, our expert moderator, asked Filippo to tell us a bit about the firm. “I’m the old guy in the room”, he started. But nowhere near as old as Antinori’s association with wine which goes back to 1385. Indeed, they were in business for a hundred years before that as silk merchants.

“But it is only in the last sixty years, even the last thirty, that Antinori accelerated to a full cycle producer - you must grow your own grapes and do the whole thing from start to finish. We are also a custodian of tradition but always innovative.” 

And Filippo cited their famous Tignanello wine as an example. A very good example indeed as it was Tignanello that helped catapult the wines of Tuscany onto the world stage in the 1970s. The explosion in popularity of Italian restaurants in the USA, and elsewhere, also helped. 

Tignanello was the first Sangiovese to be aged in barriques, the first contemporary red wine blended with untraditional varieties (specifically Cabernet) and one of the first red wines in the Chianti Classico region that didn’t use white grapes.

So Tignanello, which saw Piero Antinori lead the way, was a breakaway from the hidebound traditions (some of you may remember Chianti in its straw flask) and the rules of the appellation. He broke those rules in two ways, at least, by using international grapes and also the barriques. 

And so one of the first of what became known as Super Tuscans was born and went on to thrive. Piero is generally regarded as one of the heroes of Italian wine in the last century breaking away from a system geared more towards quantity than quality. Again, some of you will remember the EU “inspired” wine lakes and, closer to home, butter mountains.

Filippo continued: “Many followed us to Super Tuscans. We are an old family but also modern, never compromise on quality. We are also democratic producers in that we produce everyday wines to high-end expensive ones. We are always advancing, never resting on our laurels.”

We would soon see an example as Georgia began to talk about Le Mortelle, the estate she manages in the heart of Maremma Tuscany, in an area well known for the production of top quality wines. The winery appears on top of a hillside overlooking the surrounding countryside while the cellars lie underground in perfect harmony with the environment.

“It’s a mix of elegance and wilderness,”she said, where they grow quite a few of those international varieties, mainly the Cabernets and Carménère. “It is an ideal place with a warm Mediterranean climate, ideal for these varieties that require a longer ripening time."

Riccardo’s winery, La Braccesca (bought in 1990), has two different but adjoining terroirs between the hills of Montepulciano and Cortona and here two very different personalities live side by side in complete harmony: the traditional Sangiovese for Nobile di Montepulciano and the international Syrah in Cortona, an emerging wine producing area with great potential. The  La Braccesca winemakers take advantage of the terroirs, the clay near Montepulciano and the sand on the other side.

Soon he was showing us the first of the day's wines to be tasted, the Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. “The arm on the label represents the noble tradition. And when some see Nobile on the label, they think of a heavy wine.. no longer the case…now it’s all about acidity and fruitiness with softer tannins (than Sangiovese from different areas). You can drink it with everything.”

Georgia, originally from Greece and, like Riccardo, well travelled and well educated in wine, started with Vivia, “a sunny wine, recently bottled, no oak”.

Her second Botrosecco, also from Le Mortelle, is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) and Cabernet Franc. “I call it simple, simple but good, with soft tannins..easy to enjoy young… a very good expression and great value for money.”

Riccardo’s second offering was Achelo. A Syrah, “a famous grape of Cortona, a recent appellation, founded only in 2000. Some time back, a few growers, including us, saw similarities between here and the Rhone: climate, soil, acidity”.

They investigated, did their research and now produce top quality Syrah. By the way Achelo is the name of a local god of abundance. The Syrah is versatile: “Use it an aperitif. And dinner too. The more you keep it open, the more it expresses itself.”

He also showed two older Syrahs, the Bramasole from 2013 and 2016. “The plot is very well exposed, lots of sun, sandy solid. There’a an impression of sweetness, not sugar, just from the ripe fruits.. it reflects what the soil produces.. it is a powerful wine and needs 15 to 18 months in barrels plus two years in bottle.”

Then he “hopped” back to the Montepulciano side for the Santa Pia 2015, a Riserva. “Fresh, with a little bit of age flavour.” How long will it last? For decades was the answer, twenty or thirty years from the very best vintages. Maybe not as long from the other vintages.

Georgia then showed the Poggio alle Nane (Hill of the Wild Duck), La Mortelle’s “flagship wine”.  The blend of Cabernet Franc 80%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10 and Carmènére 10 was finalised in 2015. It is the only Carmènére vineyard in the area and the grape is suited by the hilly grounds. “It is demanding in terms of ripening but we have the right conditions in Maremma.”

And they work on guarding those conditions. “Our focus is to minimise our impact so we use a lot of stainable techniques: monitoring insects, encouraging predators, and more. The more we work in harmony with nature, the better the results in our wine.”

The cellar in Maremma

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spain, and Karwig Wines, keep surprising!

Spain, and Karwig Wines, keep surprising!

Cunas Davia Ribeiro (DO) 2016, 13.5%, €21.15 Karwig Wine

Spain keeps surprising. From Galicia, the green Spain, this Cunas Davia white is an impressive newcomer to the Karwig portfolio and Very Highly Recommended. It is a blend of Treixadura (70%), Albarino (20), Godello (8) and Lado (2). Valdavia is a small family farm using biodynamic production methods on its two hectares.

It has a light straw colour. And a lovely intense nose where floral and herbal notes mingle with ripe white fruits. Rich, long and balanced on the palate, fruit and fresh acidity in perfect harmony and there is a long citrus led finalé. A pleasure!

“Ribeiro is building a reputation for fresh but elevated Treixadura-driven wines made from grapes planted on hillside terraces. A combination of Atlantic and Mediterranean influences gives Ribeiro wines more body and floral richness than Albariño from Rías Baixas.” So wrote in 2016. I agree!

Herdade Do Esporão Quatro Castas, Vinho Regional Alentejano 2014, €20.95 Karwig Wine 

Okay, a few clues for you. Quatro Castas means 4 types, 25% each of Touriga Franca, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Alicante Bouchet (a red fleshed grape named after its breeder). Blend varies from vintage to vintage and picking the four grapes and then getting the blend right is the annual challenge to the winemakers.

All four are vinified separately. The first and third spend 6 months in American oak, the Cab Sauv 6 months in French oak, and 6 months of stainless steel for the AB. The year, 2014, provided very favourable weather conditions for red wines with high quality concentrated grapes resulting in fresh aromatic intense wines with an excellent equilibrium.

This deep ruby red wine has concentrated red fruit aromas, also a little spice and a little vanilla. Fresh, fruity and spicy on the palate with a very acceptable balance. Lovely mouthfeel and long finish. Just another beauty from this area of Portugal and Very Highly Recommended.

Velenosi Rosso Piceno (DOC) 2016, 13.5% abv, €15.50 Karwig Wines

This engaging blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese (30) is part of Velenosi’s organic line, “a line that will surprise and charm you”. This red is pretty good and Highly Recommended.

It is a mid to dark ruby colour, with a lighter rim. There are fairly rich aromas, red fruit mainly. Fresh on the palate, it is soft with a good body, some spice, excellent acidity, strong and pleasant right through to the long finish. An elegant wine, well made in “typical Velenosi style”.

When Angela Piotti Velenosi and her husband founded their winery in 1984, cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned in her local area of the Marches and Piceno. They started with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

Read more about the Velenosi wines here 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Velenosi of the Marche

When Angela Piotti Velenosi and her husband founded their winery in 1984, cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned in her local area of the Marches and Piceno. They started with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

Velenosi Villa Angela Passerina, Marche (IGT) 2013, 12.5%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
Passerina, according to Wikipedia, is both a rare local white grape that is found in the Marche and a DOC for wines of the same name. It has large berries, high yields and a long ripening period. It makes appealing wines with clear, focused fruit.

Not a bad summation at all of this Highly Recommended wine. It has a rather rich straw colour. And there’s a mix of fruity and floral notes in the intense aromas. The palate is soft and fresh. Acidity is excellent and the finish is persistent.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Gold Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2012, 13.5%, €20.95 Karwig Wines

This is a blend of Montepulciano (mainly, c. 70%) and Sangiovese, It has been matured for c.24 months in new barrels.  Brecciarolo refers to broken stones, typical of soil in the area.

The colour is violet and the aromas (mainly of red fruit, especially cherries) are pretty intense. No shortage of strong flavours, spice is pretty prominent too, a refreshing acidity and it finishes well too. Warm, soft and harmonious, well balanced. Highly Recommended.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2014, 13.5%, €16.50 Karwig Wines

Just like the Gold, this is a blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese. After fermentation, the wine “is channelled into second-fill barriques where wines for the production of Roggio and Ludi had been kept the previous year.

Colour is ruby with tints of garnet. There are rather intense red fruit aromas and a little vanilla there too. Warm and juicy on the palate, the red fruit flavours are well delivered, some spice too. One of those mouth-friendly wines, easy drinking, easy to like and Highly Recommended.

* By the way, Velenosi produce quite a range, including a delicious sweet wine. It is a favourite in this house and you may check it out here.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Montepulciano and Montepulciano

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 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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Yummy Duo

Yummy Duo
Caldora Yume Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008, 14%, €20.60, Karwig Wines
They call this “Yummy” in Karwig’s and it is easy to see why. This very dark red has gorgeous aromas of dark fruit (plum, cherry). On the palate it is smooth and fruity, tannins present but close to unobtrusive. This full flavoured lively wine is a delight and a very good example as to why Montepulciano is so popular.
The technical bits:
Grape is 100 per cent Montepulciano, 10 days in skin contact, 10 months in barriques, 6 months in large vats, and 6 months in bottle. Takes a bit of rearing! Worth it though as this is a multi-award winner including silver at Decanter World Wine Awards 2012. Very Highly Recommended.

Domaine Noblet Charvet Pouilly-Fuissé 2011, 13.5%, €20.40, Karwig Wines
Made a mistake when picking up this one – meant to get a Pouilly Fumé. If all errors turned out so well!
This, from Burgundy rather than my intended target the Loire, has a pleasant concentrated bouquet and a colour of light gold with shades of green. This Chardonnay has lively intense white fruits yet a fine acidity, well balanced and with a long finish. Quite a refined wine really and Very Highly Recommended.

The wines of Pouilly Fuissé “are undoubtedly some of the most famous white Burgundies” and the Noblet family is a long standing top producer while Chardonnay is the most popular and most versatile white grape in the world.