Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – A Still Somewhat Hidden Gem

Today is the Italian Wine Masters tasting at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. I will be pouring wines from the Brunello Consortium. Do come visit if you are there but today, I had the pleasure of spending time with another consortium, that of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

I discovered this area over 20 years ago on my first extended trip to Italy. At the time, I thought of it as the other walled city with an M, meaning not Montalcino, its famed cousin of Brunello fame. As the years passed however, I came to appreciate Montepulciano in many ways and its wines, food, traditions and people most of all.

I visited countless times at this point to see my dear friend, Susanna Crociani, whose wines I have blogged about and drank with pleasure for years now. Her Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 Riserva which I had this evening was a dream with elegant plum, violet and balsamic notes.

It seemed very feminine to me and paired beautifully with food that was served at a lovely dinner at SD26 prepared by a chef from Montepulciano.

In addition to Susanna’s wine, I was able to taste that of Andrea Contucci. I had never met him before nor tasted his wines. We had his Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007 which was beautiful and ready to drink, not typical for a Vino Nobile. It had lovely red fruit and was very pleasant on the palate. He said that the wine is made from a blend of Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese), Canaiolo Nero and Colorino.

Susanna’s wine is made from a similar blend but she uses Mammolo instead of Colorino. Mammolo brings a note of violet to the wine while Colorino provides color and structure.

Contucci also said he used two types of oak now, French and Slavonian, while they used to use chestnut. He credits this with making the wine easier to drink at a younger age. He uses large oak barrels as does Susanna.

The Contucci family has an ancient history both in terms of its Tuscan heritage and its winemaking vocation. They have been documented in Tuscany since the year 1000 AD and have been making wine since that time. Andrea is the 43rd generation to make wine in his family.

The family mansion in Piazza Grande was built by Antonio Sangallo the Elder and has affrescos by Andrea Pozzo.

The church which is the symbol of Montepulciano, the Madonna di San Biagio was built by the same architect.

Next to Italy and wine there is nothing I love more than Art. I can’t wait to visit this winery on my next trip to Montepulciano.

Both Susanna and Andrea are traditional wine makers meaning they still use the traditional grape varieties although the new disciplinare or legislative rules allow for the use of other grape varieties. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was one of the first DOCG in Italy, garnering the designation in 1980.

According to law, il Nobile must have 70% Sangiovese. For the remaining 30% red wine grapes may be used or up to 5% of that 30%, may be white grapes growin in Tuscany. All of the wine must age two years before being released or three for the Riserva designation.

Two other splendid wines are made in this area, Rosso di Montepulciano D.O.C. and Il Vin Santo di Montepulciano D.O.C.. I will discuss each in other posts. Vino Nobile is woefully underrated in my book and I hope those who are at the tasting tomorrow and in the days to come in other cities appreciate its specialness.

I know I do. A domani.

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