Marvellous Montepulciano

Marvellous Montepulciano
I drink many different red wines, but one that I drink more than most is Montepulciano.

Montepulciano is confusing because it is both the name of an Italian grape variety and an Italian wine region, and the variety Montepulciano is not grown in the region of the same name.

Italian wine labels generally name the grape variety first while the region comes last. So Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is the grape variety from the region Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a wine from the Montepulciano region, which is made predominantly from the Sangiovese grape variety.

It’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which is my ‘go-to’ wine for pasta dishes and pizza. It makes a light fresh fruity wine with a deep colour. I like its approachability, it’s spicy and aromatic with berry flavours, yet soft tannins which makes it easy to drink. It pairs very well with tomato based pasta sauces. On warm days I chill it a little

It’s one of the wines I always have at home, buying another case every time my supplies get low and I keep some in a rack in my kitchen ready to grab at a moment’s notice, and I do grab it a lot.

I don’t pay a lot, luckily this wine is inexpensive and thus it’s worth looking out for in restaurants. I’ve never been disappointed by a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

Montepulciano is grown in the Appennini mountains of Abruzzo centred around the city of Pescara on the Adriatic coast. Growing grapes at altitude in hills cooled by Adriatic breezes tempers summer heat and allows grapes to ripen more slowly to develop flavours.

I haven’t tried aging Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. I like it just as it is; young, fresh, tangy, refreshing and fruity. Unpretentious and easy going.

But if I were to age it, I’d upgrade to a more expensive version. All the inexpensive ones I’ve had, both at home and in restuarnats, have been sealed with plastic closures. Of course you don’t realise that it’s not cork-closed until the capsule is removed. I wouldn’t keep a plastic closed wine more than a couple of years and preferably less. The only wine with plastic closures that I knowingly buy is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It’s so good and reasonably priced I make an exception to my policy of avoiding plastic stoppers. And I don’t keep them long.

I've rarely encountered MOntepulciano being grown outside Italy, but recentkly I visited Raffaldini Vineyards in North Carolina who make super Montepulciano, see my report via the link below.

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Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africa’s Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.

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Raffaldini Vineyards, North Carolina

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