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Italy: Tuscany: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

What is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano?
The town of Montepulciano, in the southeast corner of Tuscany, is host to one of Italy’s most ancient wines, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and was also that nation's first DOC region elevated to DOCG status, in 1983.

In style, one might say that the very best Vino Nobile is a combination of the grace and finesse of fine Chianti and the power of Brunello, but the pervading style is of a robust, rustic, chunky wine. They are muscular wines that can require patient cellaring. Sangiovese, in the guise of Prugnolo Gentile, forms the bulk of the typical blend here, and many producers chose to ignore the optional white varieties that traditionally have been used but are no longer mandated. Softer red blending grapes are used to reduce the toughness of Prugnolo in its youth. Vineyards are generally planted on gentle, southeast facing slopes that become rather steeper around the town itself.

Vino Nobile is shaking off some of the more recent bad press that afflicted it as recently as the early-’80s when the wines did not meet universal acclaim due to the old fashioned approach of wine making and frequent maturation in large chestnut casks. Today, the best wines can represent an alternative to pricey Brunello.

In parallel with Montalcino, Montepulciano has another overlapping DOC, Rosso di Montepulciano, which serves to allow producers to select the best grapes for their Vino Nobile labels. Rosso di Montepulciano is vinified for earlier consumption, although it does often benefit from near-term cellaring.

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