Beloved by Italians and wine lovers abroad, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is the second most grown grape in Italy after Sangiovese. Together, the two of them share the majority of acres of wine grown in Italy. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is not to be confused with the “Vino Nobile di Montepulciano” of Tuscany, a variety only grown in the vicinity of the town of Montepulciano and exclusively produced with Sangiovese grapes, not Montepulciano grapes.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is often described as structured, harmonic and persistent. It is also one of the first DOC varieties in the country, a feat achieved in 1968, in the first year it was possible to do so in Italy. In 2003 a new variation called “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane” also obtained DOCG status, the highest attainable in Italy. In terms of the number of bottles sold it is only surpassed by Chianti, enjoying a revival in the past 2 decades as a bottling wine and not only as a table wine. A good quality Montepulciano D’Abruzzo can be stored for many years, sometimes decades. In its “Riserva” variation Montepulciano is aged a minimum of 3 years, but it can also be enjoyed at the table as soon as it is produced. making it one of the most versatile red wines produced in Italy today.
Where is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo WINE IS grown in Italy
The ideal areas of growth for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes are the steep hills in the region of Abruzzo and interior of Le Marche, located in central Italy. Although the DOC and DOCG territories can only be found in Abruzzo. It is there that the best quality Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine is made, helped by a high concentration of small producers. Le Marche is the second largest producer of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo due to its similar weather patterns and soil composition. The grapes are also used to blend in with other local varieties such as Sangiovese in Le Marche’s DOC wines: Rosso Conero DOC and Offida Rosso DOC. These both can be produced with 100% Montepulciano grapes. Some producers are growing this grape in other regions of Italy and abroad as the grapes possess the ability to blend well with many other varieties, even international ones.
History of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo WINE and differences with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Montepulciano grapes have been present in the area known as “Aprutzi” since Roman times. History has it that when Hannibal and his troops settled in Abruzzo to plan the invasion of Rome, they enjoyed the fruits of this land, speaking very highly of a “fruity bright red wine” which sustained the militia for months during war time. Although the wine today is very different from what Hannibal was drinking, (the wine made back then had a very low alcohol content and was often used instead of water) the grapes are very similar. Today’s Montepulciano, like most Italian varieties, is a clone of the original grapes grown thousands of years ago.
As with other grapes in Italy, Montepulciano is thought to have been brought over by the Greeks, finding it perfect conditions to grow in what is now designated as the region of Abruzzo. Around the 12th century the name “Montepulciano” began to be used, many believe it was long before the Vino Nobile of Montepulciano even had a name.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes are picked much later than the Vino Nobile and this gives rise to a more structured wine, with higher tannins that favor aging in the cellar. The dispute in the naming was created out of nothing as studies have shown that not a single grape of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano grows in Abruzzo. Tuscany, being the notorious wine maker in Italy, recently exerted great power to make Abruzzo change the official name to include d’Abruzzo – from Abruzzo. This nomenclature hasn’t impacted the widespread popularity of Montepulciano D’Abruzzo wine, as it continues to be present on most restaurants’ wine lists both in Italy and abroad.
Characteristics of ABRUZZO’S FAVORITE RED WINE
The color of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine is intense and dark ruby red and over the course of its life it tends to become a brick red color. To the nose it is powerful and it immediately reminds you of black cherry, raspberry, plums and graphite and iron. When aged, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine takes on the scent of licorice, leather and tobacco. A quality Montepulciano d’Abruzzo should have a good acidity and alcohol content balance containing tannins which are never too powerful, just leaving a slight sensation of sweetness in your mouth.
What to Pair with YOUR GLASS OF Montepulciano d’Abruzzo WINE
Abruzzo is renowned all over Italy for its meats, including grilled lamb, and tagliata that you can enjoy when you join us on Italy Undiscovered or Italy’s Epicurean Journey. These Italian meat dishes pair perfectly with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine including other must-try regional dishes like the “Capra Neretese”, a goat stew slow-cooked with sweet red peppers – the perfect dish for the adventurous food and wine lover to try on your trip to Italy with us.
The quintessential regional dish though is the “Arrosticini”. These little skewers of sheep meat are very popular and simply prepared. You’ll enjoy them simply grilled and served with some salt bread and olive oil when you get in on the grilling fun on your next Italian vacation with us. In addition to a full glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine, arrosticini are often served with “formaggio fuso”, a soft cheese that is fried like a dough and served as a side-dish or appetizer.
Coming to Italy during November’s Truffle season, then you’ll be delighted to know that Abruzzo also happens to be one of the largest growing regions for truffles! And Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an ideal match for both black and white truffles that often grow starting the end of October into the winter months near the hills that the grapes are cultivated on. Black and winter truffles that you can enjoy with this famous red when you grab your spot on the 7 day Italian Truffle Adventure!
Want to enjoy Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine with dessert?
Then pull up a chair on tour and dig into a homemade slice of “Pizza Dolce”! This creamy layered cake is typical of central Abruzzo and is often served at weddings throughout this region of Italy.
Whether you’re looking to enjoy truffle tasting menus paired with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or be invited into the home of local Italian farmers that have been cultivating the land since 1824, when you join us on tour you can have your cake and eat it too!