Introduction to Montepulciano wines
Picking out a great wine can be a very tricky task. But, if you’re looking for a red wine that goes well with fatty foods, the Montepulciano wine is the best.
Montepulciano is a red wine variety grape that originates from East-Central Italy and has been widely grown in the Apennine foothills and the Adriatic Sea coast of the Abruzzo region since the 18th century. In the Abruzzo region, the climate provides conducive conditions for wines to grow well, unlike most Abruzzo western parts that are known to be very rocky for viticulture. Some other regions where the Montepulciano is grown are the Marche, Molise, and Puglia regions. Montepulciano is a late-ripening grape with thick skin, and it’s the second most planted red grape in Italy.
Montepulciano wines, also known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, are sometimes confused with the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine, made from Sangiovese grapes in the town Montepulciano, Tuscany. They are, however, very different from each other. Montepulciano wines are made from montepulciano grapes while Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made of Sangiovese grapes.
Montepulciano is the town’s name in Tuscany region where Vino Nobile wine is produced. It’s a place well-known for its dry, red wines like Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montepulciano, and sweet white wines like Vino Santo di Montepulciano.
Montepulciano production and quality
Montepulciano, produced on the plains and descents around the Adriatic coast, sold under the DOC title. The best types of Montepulciano are from the north of Abruzzo, the Colline Teramane foothills. Quite expensive too because of their DOCG title. Well, they are worth that money.
Some of the finest Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
- Pasetti Harimann 2009
- Cantina Zaccagnini 2017
- Emidio Pepe Montepulciano 2010
- Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Riserva 2016
- Cerasulo d’Abruzzo DOC
- Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2014
- Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno – also very good Montepulciano wines, produced in the Marche region.
You may be wondering what DOC and DOCG mean. Italian wines are broken down into four classes: Vino da Tavola (VdT), Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT), Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). The higher the standards, the higher their guaranteed quality.
Vino da Tavola
Vino da Tavola literally means “table wine” in Italian, and they do not have geographical attestation. They don’t have enough quality to make them retailed in the European market or even exported to the US.
In the IGT category, the wine labels contain the IGT region where the wine is produced. The wine in this category is of lower quality than DOC wines.
DOC is the main category of Italian wine classification and represents many Italian wine types. There are about 330 DOC titles in Italy, and each title has a set of rules controlling its winemaking procedures. Montepulciano made a reputation for itself in the late 20th and early 21st century as one of Italy’s universally exported DOC wines.
The DOCG, on the other hand, is the highest quality level of Italian wines. Here, there are very firm rules controlling the production of DOCG wines. Thereby giving a guarantee of the best quality. There are about 74 DOCG wines in Italy, and to avoid simulation, there is a numbered government seal on the neck of every bottle.
Aging process of Montepulciano wines
Being a rustic wine, Montepulciano wines are when you drink them while still young. They are dry and have a deep color with intense aromas and flavors such as hints of oregano, pepper, tobacco, and black fruits. The taste, however, can be affected by how it is aged. The common aging processes used in maturing Montepulciano: Oak-aging and Neutral-aging.
The oak-aging goes way back to the early days of Roman winemaking, and it is still a very common practice. Wines aged in oak barrels tend to grow flavors such as cocoa, vanilla, and mocha from the wood. These wines also give away deep black fruit flavors like boysenberry, blackberry, and prune. They often have sticky tannin and can be sable, making it more preferable to look for up to four years old.
Neutral barrels are sometimes oak barrels that have lost their flavoring ability. These barrels permit the introduction of oxygen into the wine slowly, bringing about a softening effect. Here, some winemakers produce a lighter style by ensuring there is little or no contact with the skin during fermentation. The barrel-aged wines have red fruit flavors of red plum, sour cherry, cranberry, raspberry jam, hints of violet, and dried herbs.
Montepulciano wines and food
Montepulciano wines have high tannin and acidity levels. They are ideal with dishes like beef briskets, Pizza, pasta Bolognese, roasted meats, baked winter vegetables, etc. Their alcohol volume ranges from 11.5% to 13.5%, and as a result of its acidity, Montepulciano is able to cut through the rich flavors of fatty foods. In fact, one way to enjoy the Montepulciano is to pair it with something that has fat. It is also good to note there are foods that you cannot pair with the wine because pairing wrongly can cause some kind of ingredients/flavor identification war on your palate. So, avoid pairing with simple dishes like salads and raw fish.
The price of a Montepulciano varies depending on the style, producer, and quality. It, however, falls within $25 to $160. So, if you’re looking for a wine with moderate alcohol, easy to drink, and is also a single varietal, this is the wine to go for.