If there’s a red wine that you don’t know but should, it’s Tuscany’s noblest bottle of them all, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Not to be confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (made from the Montepulciano grape), this Sangiovese-based red is just as noteworthy as its celebrated Tuscan neighbors, Chianti and Brunello. For your next dinner party, holiday gift, or Friday night on the couch, look no further than this distinguished Italian classic; vibrant, fresh, and exquisitely tasty, Nobile truly goes with everything!
What Is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano?
Nobile is one of Tuscany’s most renowned red wines. Though it often falls in the shadows of neighboring Chiantis, Brunello, or Super Tuscans, Nobile was the first DOCG wine to appear on the Italian market. A favorite amongst influential Italian Kings, Popes, and Presidents, the wine has been celebrated throughout history as the wine of the nobles (hence its name). Even our own third President and fine wines expert, Thomas Jefferson, fell under the spell of Vino Nobile, stating, “For the present I confine myself to the physical want of some good Montepulciano…this being a very favorite wine and habit having rendered the light and high flavored wines of a necessary of life with me. It was most superlatively good.”
Where is Montepulciano?
Nobile is made from the grapes grown around the town of Montepulciano in southern Tuscany. The medieval town is situated on a hill in the province of Siena. The soils are sandy and clay-rich and dotted with scarce rocks. A warm Mediterranean climate envelopes the vineyards.
How is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Made?
By law, Nobile can only be produced from vineyards surrounding the town of Montepulciano. The wine is made predominantly from Sangiovese, known as Prugnolo gentile amongst locals, which must occupy at least 70 percent of the blend. However, many producers forgo their allowance to blend and make their top Nobile from 100 percent Sangiovese. The wine is aged for a minimum of two years. One of those years takes place in oak barrels or casks, and it must be aged for three years total for the wine to be labeled riserva.
Despite their common name, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo have as much in common as Washington D.C. and Washington State. The former is a Tuscan medieval town famous for its Nobile, and the latter is a grape. Abruzzo is a region in central Italy, not even bordering Tuscany, with a substantially higher wine production (about ten times that of Nobile).
When Should I Drink It?
In its youth, Nobile is vibrant and fresh in the glass, showing gorgeous ruby red colors and aromas of bright red fruit. However, thanks to its solid structure and prevalent acidity, Nobile is an extremely age-worthy wine, with well-made examples capable of improving gracefully for up to 20 years!
Why Should I Drink It?
Despite its prestigious history, America has not discovered it yet. Therefore, Nobile is a bargain compared with its Tuscan neighbors, while still rivaling them in quality. A young Nobile is delicious, easy to drink, and refreshing, vibrant with aromas of ripe red fruit and slight spice. The medium bodied palate presents flavors of dark ripe berries, with notes of plum and hints of earthiness. Thanks to its bright acidity and gentle tannins, Nobile is very versatile; it can be enjoyed on its own, shared with friends, or paired with food. Over time, the wine’s aromatics and flavor profile will evolve into delicious secondary characteristics of tobacco, leather, and candied fruit flavors, all while maintaining its solid structure. With Nobile, there’s no need to choose between now or never– you can enjoy it today, tomorrow, and twenty years down the line!
What Should I Pair With It?
Nobile’s versatility, light tannins, and cleansing acidity make it a perfect fit not only for Italian cuisine, but for an array of other foods as well, like barbecue favorites and spicy Asian dishes. Try it with your favorite weeknight takeout dish today!