Montepulciano

Origin: Italy (indigenous)
Not to be confused with the region of Montepulciano
The name “Montepulciano” is used both for a grape variety and a region. Unfortunately, the two are not correlated at all, making it a bit difficult at times for beginners
Montepulciano the grape is grown mainly in Abruzzo while Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a wine from the grape variety Sangiovese grown in the region of Montepulciano. This article is about the grape variety, not the region of Montepulciano

Grown: Mainly Italy (Abruzzo, Puglia, Marche, Campania and Molise) but also grown in many new world countries (USA, New Zealand and Australia)

Climate: Mediterranean, warm to moderate

Soil: Adaptable, give it your best shot

Viticulture: Ripens late and can showcase a green flavour if not ripe enough. Yields, as always is of high importance with this grape

Regional names to look for on label:

  • Biferno DOC
  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC
  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
  • Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC (as a Rosé)

General Personality:

  • Colour: Deep, intensive ruby red (a lot of anthocyanin in the grape skins)
  • Aromas: Red plume, blackberry, oregano, chocolate and earthiness
  • Taste and Texture: Ripe, soft but robust tannins, relatively (for Italy) soft acidity but rich structure
  • Conclusion: A non-offensive wine. For a buffet, this would be the grape variety to look for, even when cheap, it is never bad, and good examples can be outstanding. Most Montepulciano wines are rarely memorable, but there are some oak aged examples out there that can truly make an impression. A perfect example of the Italian philosophy, rustic, homey and oh so food friendly
  • Future: A couple or years for a good example (low yield, high quality wine making). But generally, a wine to enjoy without the fuss of arranging cellar space

Food pairings:

  • General: Some people will mistake food friendly for boring, and I will not deny that there is some truth in that, but at the same time, sometimes, boring/safe, might be just the thing.
    “Pizza friendly” was the first thing I was taught about Montepulciano, before I even knew that true Italians prefer to drink their pale (tragic-excuse) for a beer with pizza. If you are not a beer fan, Montepulciano is the way to go
  • Obvious pairing: Deep dish Pizza
    I could not, not do a pizza pairing, but this if a fun play on it. It is a Chicago style deep dish pizza, or as most Europeans would call it, a Pizza Pie! Here is an amazing recipe. When I tried it out, I might have been a bit lazy and gone for more traditional pizza dough (containing gluten) but that was just me
  • On the wild side: Tofu Butter Masala
    Butter Masala is an amazing Indian dish and as long as you do not overuse the chili, it can pair amazingly with a tomato friendly wine like Montepulciano. On this site you will find a very traditional recipe, with some tips on how to make it vegan. Like all Indian recipes, it does take some time and preparation to make, but it is always well worth the effort in my book (or for that matter if you have an Indian restaurant in your neighbourhood, that might work as well)