Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is one of three great Sangiovese DOCG
zones in Tuscany (along with Chianti Classico
di Montalcino) and certainly the oldest and the smallest.
Montepulciano wine was first documented in 789 AD when a cleric, Arnipert,
offered the church of San Silvestre some vineyards attached to the castle of
Policiano; in his `Historical & Geographical Dictionary of Tuscany' Repetti
mentions the trade in Montepulciano wines from 1350. In the mid-16th
century Pope John III's cellarman praised the region's wine as `perfect in both
winter and summer; aromatic, fleshy, never sour nor brightly-coloured, because
it is a wine fit for a Nobleman' while in his ode `Bacchus in Tuscany' (1685)
Redi triumphantly proclaims that `Montepulciano is the king of all wines!'
Despite all this, wines from Montepulciano clearly lost their lustre in the
19th century when they were mostly labelled and sold as Chianti.
With the creation of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOC in the 1960s, and its
promotion to DOCG status in 1980, however, the region's identity and focus was
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG covers only 820ha - compared to
12,000ha for Brunello di
Montalcino and 7,000ha for Chianti Classico.
Located an hour's drive east of Montalcino, the hilltop town of
Montepulciano and its surrounding vineyards lie at between 250m and 600m
altitude. The finest vineyards are situated about 300m above sea-level on
south-east facing slopes made up of a mix of sandy, gravelly, clay
Prugnolo Gentile (a more open, larger-berried clone of Sangiovese) account
for at least 70% of the blend along with a maximum 20% Canaiolo and a maximum
20% from other permitted varieties. The latter include the highly regarded
local variety, Mammolo, prized for its plummy perfume yet sadly
increasingly losing out to international varieties like Merlot.
The maximum yield for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is 56 hl/ha and the wine
must be aged for 2 years from 1st January after the harvest, either
entirely in oak, or 18 months in oak and 6 months in bottle, or 12 months in
oak, 6 months in bottle and 6 months in other storage. Riserva wines
must have a minimum alcohol content of 13% and must be aged for 3 years. All
wines must be bottled within the commune of Montepulciano and must have a
minimum dry extract of 23 g/l.
Stylistically, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano combines the richness of
Brunello di Montalcino with the perfume of Chianti Classico. Without the
limestone spine of other top Tuscan sites, the wines tend to be medium to
full-bodied with firm tannins, lively acidity, fleshy strawberry and cherry
fruit and hints of tea leaves. The best examples should age 8 to 15 years
while Riservas can last for over two decades.
Recommended producer: Massimo