If you’re looking for delicious, age-worthy Tuscan reds, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, you should really check out the wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Perhaps overshadowed by the big boys of Brunello di Montalicino, which garner more critical acclaim and come with correspondingly higher price points, there are lots of exciting wines hailing from Montepulciano. Here, Prugnolo Gentile, the local clone of Sangiovese, is the staple. But winemakers are allowed to blend in up to 30 percent of some indigenous grapes like Canaiolo and Mammolo, as well as international red grapes and even some white grapes, (although few producers use the entire pallet allowed by the appellation laws).
I recently tasted through some Vino Nobile wines at Bourbon Steak in Washington, DC, and was impressed by the across-the-board quality. At the tasting, arranged by a trade group called the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, I was joined by a group of Vino Nobile winemakers and the mayor of Montepulciano, Andrea Rossi.
Several of the producers were quite young, and the discussion turned to the differences between the Montepulciano of old and the more recent released. They explained how a new generation of young winemakers is stepping up to the task, willing to put in the time, effort and money to make the best wines possible from their sites and to promote them to a wider audience.
The youngest producer, Marco Anselmi, took over his family estate when his grandfather died in 2006. The 2007 Vino Nobile was Mario’s first vintage as winemaker. He named the wine “Damo” in honor of his grandfather, but he readily admits his grandfather came from a different time and place — and he made very different wine.
While Marco is rooted in the rich tradition of his hometown wine, he talks about changes: lowering yields in the vineyard, rethinking vine density and clonal selection, using sustainable farming and winemaking practices. I’m sure Damo’s wines were interesting (and I’d love to taste them next to Marco’s), but it’s inspiring to hear a young winemaker speak so passionately about raising the caliber of his hometown wines.
My notes on the wines (which were tasted sighted) are below the fold. While these wines are not easy to find in the States, poring through Wine-Searcher yields price points in the $20-$30 range. Read the rest of this entry »