Montepulciano: “The Place” and “The Grape”

Montepulciano: “The Place” and “The Grape”

Montepulciano pronounced “mon-ta-pull-channo” is one of the more confusing names in the wine world, as it is both a place name and a grape name. To make matters more complex, wines made in Montepulciano are not made from its eponymous grape. Confused? Exactly!

Montepulciano, “The Place,” is a medieval Renaissance hill town and commune in the province of Siena in Southern Tuscany in Italy. This area is a major producer of food and drink and is famous for its Vino Nobile (noble wine) which is considered one of the best Tuscan wines in the world. Vino Nobile, however, is not made from the Montepulciano grape; it is made from predominately Sangiovese. And to make matters more bewildering, Montepulciano, “The Grape,” is not planted in Montepulciano, “The Place.”

Montepulciano, “The Grape” is an Italian red grape variety widely planted throughout central and southern Italy. The grape is permitted in 20 out of Italy’s 95 provinces.   Montepulciano is a late-ripening grape that it is rarely planted in northern Italy, because it needs more warmth to fully ripen. The most planted grape in Italy is Sangiovese (yes, the grape in the wines of Montepulciano, “The Place”) and the second-most-planted indigenous grape is yes, you guessed it: Montepulciano, “The Grape.”

There are about 86,000 acres of Montepulciano planted world-wide, including Italy (notably in the provinces of Abruzzo, Marche, Molise and Puglia); Argentina; United Status (notably in California’s San Joaquin Valley, Lodi, Mendocino, and Temecula Valley); and elsewhere, including Australia and New Zealand.

Wines made from Montepulciano are deeply colored and will display aromas and flavors of plums; black cherry; boysenberry; and dried herbs, such as oregano. The wines made from this grape will have medium to medium-high levels of acidity, tannins, and body, with medium alcohol.

Montepulciano pairs well with comfort foods like burgers, brisket, meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese. For the vegetarians, pair the wine with roasted portobello or other mushrooms, beets or sunchokes. It also pairs well with most charcuterie, and fares well with aged cheddar, asiago, and parmesan cheeses. And be sure to try these wines with a meat lover’s pizza!

On Saturday, September 14th, 2019, City Vino will be featuring the Wild Hog Montepulciano 2015. Wild Hog Vineyards is a small family-owned winery and vineyard located between Cazadero and Fort Ross on the Sonoma Coast of California. They have been Certified Organic Farmers since 1981. This wine has hints of plums on the nose. It has a nice structure, and the mid-palate highlights fruit and the tannins. It has a long, lingering finish.

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