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The Montepulciano Grape


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About Montepulciano

(Synonyms: Africano, Angolano, Montepulciano Cordisco, Montepulciano Spargolo, Morellone, Sangiovese Cordisco, Uva Abbruzzese, Violone)

Background

Map showing the Abruzzo region of Italy

Montepulciano is a red-wine grape originating in the Abruzzo region of Italy, a region that encompasses four provinces, all of which produce Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines. Italian wine law permits up to a maximum of 15% of Sangiovese to be blended in Montepulciani.

The ultimate origin of the grape is unsure, but a good bet would be Tuscany, and it is thought to possibly be related to Sangiovese (the informing grape of Tuscany). Today, Montepulciano is grown to at least some extent throughout almost all but the most northerly and most southerly parts of Italy, though it is a secondary grape outside its home in the Abruzzo. Gluttons for punishment can review a list of the appellations in which Montepulciano can appear in wines.

Montepulciano makes satisfactory wines at all points on the price spectrum, from eminently drinkable bottles at five dollars (sometimes even less) up to prized gems well into the three-digit price range. We like to quote wine writer Loren Sonkin on this:

The fact of the matter is that I have never tasted a poor Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The grape lends itself to making quality wines at every price point. If you see a bottle in the grocery store, try it.

Simpler (read “less expensive”) Montepulciani are made for early drinking, and so have relatively low tannin levels and (especially for Italian reds) low levels of acid; the bigger ones can bottle-age to their benefit for a decade or two. Typical Montepulciano characteristics are a deep color, rich body, and an earthy, almost “rustic” quality, meaning strongly aromatic of dark fruits (meaning much more of, say, blackberry than of strawberry or even cherry) and with a distinct note of spiciness and perhaps the usual suspects for big-bodied reds, leather and tar. A well-made but inexpensive Montepulciano (not an oxymoron) is one of the best wine buys available.

There are official quality levels of Montepulciani. Basic wines require five months minimum aging; Vecchio bottlings, a step up, require an extra two years of aging on oak. There is also a “Riserva” designation, requiring three years total aging with at least six months on oak. Wines designated “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane” (a legal appellation) are regarded as especially fine specimens.

Factoid: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has no connection to the Sangiovese-based wines “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” or “Rosso di Montepulciano”, which are named after the town, but made from different grapes. There will be a quiz in the morning.

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Some Descriptions of Montepulciano Wines

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Some Montepulcianos to Try

(About this list.)

La Valentina “Spelt” Montepulciano
(This is neither their basic bottling nor their “Riserva”.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Tiberio Montepulciano
(Don’t confuse this with the Montepulciano from the Alberto Tiberio winery.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Cantina Zaccagnini “dal tralcetto” Montepulciano
(This is not their “Riserva” bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Filomusi Guelfi Montepulciano
(This is neither their “Riserva” bottling nor their “Fonte Dei”.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Poggio Anima “Samael” Montepulciano

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

Our nomination is the Torre dei Beati “Cocciapazza” Montepulciano.

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.