Montepulciano, the kingdom of Vino Nobile
A journey between the historical and the most avant-garde companies of a territory symbol of the Tuscan hilly landscape
Montepulciano is the king of all wines! This is how Francesco Redi described the “noble wine” of Montepulciano in his Bacco di Toscana of 1685. But the history of Montepulciano starts with the Etruscans, and leads up to the awarding of its DOCG status in 1980. The production zone is a small enclave of some hundreds hectares in the municipality of Montepulciano. The Vino Nobile wine is produced with a particular clone of Sangiovese known as Prugnolo Gentile, to which a maximum of 20% Canaiolo is added, along with 10% Mammolo. Its secret lies in the soil: the alternation of sand and clay creates the ideal conditions for producing wines that are well-structured and fragrant, but with fine tannins.
The production scenario comprises historical wineries such as Contucci or Poliziano, able to speak to the world. Podere Boscarelli, belonging to the De Ferrari Corradi family, and Miriam Caporali’s Tenuta Valdipiatta both aim to valorise the pure Sangiovese of a single, individual terroir. There are new wineries emerging, such as Montemercurio, which focuses on producing Sangiovese in large barrels.
Among the most advanced companies in the land of the Noble Le Casalte is passed into the hands of Chiara Barioffi in 1999. Since then she has been working to make the uniqueness of these areas even more evident, by making difficult and courageous choices in full respect of nature. It is one of the best expressions of the Nobile and is absolutely booming. Along the same vein is Salcheto, an exemplary company in terms of sustainability, off-grid systems and biodynamics. Based on technological research, it bottles wines produced with indigenous yeasts and without adding sulphites and is worth keeping an eye on. On the hills that from Montepulciano slope down towards Valdichiana, the enthusiasm of Giulio Caporali and his daughter Miriam (with a degree in Economics and a Masters in Oenology from Bordeaux) have transformed the Tenuta Valdipiatta into a business that is known the world over, in particular for their great cru, Vigna D’Alfiero. Avignonesi, purchased in 2011 by the shipping company owner Virginie Saverys (Compagnie Maritime Belge Nv), masterfully represents the Montepulciano territory. The Prugnolo Gentile is the strong point of their reds and it finds its highest expression in the Nobile Grandi Annate Riserva. Not far from here, in a small farm at the foot of the Montepulciano hill, are two brothers, Simone and Leonardo Abram, and their shared passion since 2005: making great wines, dedicated to ageing, to create a real wine experience. This is a company that has been at the centre of attention over the last few years for its high quality: the Podere Il Macchione.
The traditional local cuisine is perfect with the Nobile. Crostini with spleen and liver, pansanto (sliced bread seasoned with boiled cauliflower, vinegar and oil), white beans cooked in a flask, pici pasta and pappardelle noodles with wild hare sauce, but also free-range guinea fowl, nana (duck) or Cinta Senese pork, lamb, porchetta (spit-roasted pork), pigeon and local game.