It’s easy to confuse Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with the Montepulciano grape variety, best known in Italy’s Abruzzo Region. Montepulciano, a grape, is best known for its Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, which is a cheap, easy-to-drink version. However, it is grown throughout Italy. This guide will concentrate on the Montepulciano wine grape.
What is Montepulciano Wine
Montepulciano is typically a red wine made from grapes of the same variety, but it can also be used to create a rose. Montepulciano wine is usually associated with Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, which is produced in Abruzzo in central-east Italy. Some are made to be aged (the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo riserva from Caroso, for example, is a beautiful and cellar-worthy example). Still, most are so delightful and generous when young that you don’t need to wait long for them to mature. You can find delicious red wines from the Montepulciano variety in Puglia, Umbria, and Lazio. Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna also produce this grape. Montepulciano is also popular in Texas and Australia. However, the majority of Montepulciano wines are made by Abruzzo.
Where does Montepulciano wine come from?
Montepulciano is a variety that thrives in Abruzzo (east-central Italy), where it is the most popular on the American market. Riserva bottles have aged for at least two years and nine months in oak. However, the majority of Montepulcianos on the American market are not Riserva. Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a separate DOC reserved for rose wine with a minimum of 85% Montepulciano. They are becoming more popular but less well-known or as widely available as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Montepulciano is also produced in other parts of Italy. For example, it plays a supporting or starring role in many films, such as Rosso Conero, from Marche; Biferno, from Molise; and Torgiano, from Umbria. Montepulciano can also be found in Texas and Australia, including the McLaren Vale AVA and Riverland and Barossa Valley in Australia.
Why should you drink Montepulciano wine?
Montepulciano produces wines that are best enjoyed in their youth. The tannic structure is sometimes assertive but not overwhelming. It only requires a short aging period to reach its best (although there are some delicious exceptions). The wine is also a great value. For less than 20 dollars, you can find a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with a high level of quality.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a classic comfort food wine. Pizza is the perfect pairing, plain or topped with pepperoni, mushrooms, or other toppings. Alfredo and marinara are both excellent choices for simple pasta. Montepulciano is acidic enough to handle the acidity of tomatoes. It’s also a surefire hit with bread, olive oil, and cheeses like mozzarella, asiago, or parmesan. Cool the bottle down a little, as this will bring out its freshness.
What does Montepulciano taste like?
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has dark cherry, plum, brambly berry flavors, balanced acidity, and sometimes assertive tannins. Some producers make bottles that are suitable for cellaring. They take on more savory flavors with age, such as dried herbs, olives, and leather. Violets, and even lavender on rare occasions, may be present. These wines are famous because of their lively fruit and food-friendly tannins.
Five Great Montepulciano Wines
Today, there are many great Montepulciano on the market. The five producers listed alphabetically are the perfect place to begin exploring Montepulciano.
Cataldi Madonna is over 100 years old and produces Trebbiano Montepulciano and other wines. The 2020 Malandrino d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo sings with wild forest fruits and a hint of nuts in the bass notes. It is delicious on its own or alongside a great charcuterie plate.
This estate, which has been in family hands since 1853, produces Montepulciano D’Abruzzo from grapes planted mainly in the 1960s. The 2017 Divus is relatively easy-to-find, and its prickly berries and spice make it a standout.
Duchman Family Winery
Texas is a long distance from Italy, but the superb Montepulciano wine produced by Dave Reilly would not let you know. It tends to blend plums and brambly berries with a touch of spice.
Masciarelli Wine Company
The Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a perennial favorite among the wines produced by this venerable producer. The grapes come from Masciarelli’s eight best vineyard parcels. It is aged in barriques for up to a year and a quarter, giving it a unique texture and aging capability.