There’s such a huge variety of Italian wines available that it’s often difficult to highlight particular wines that stand out from all of the rest.
Sure, you have the really big hitters. The likes of Chianti, Prosecco, and Barolo can all lay claim to being crucial to the development of the Italian wine industry into the behemoth that it is today.
But there are so many wines besides those that we think you should pay attention to.
Wine of those wines is the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This beautiful Italian red wine is fast becoming as much of a favourite overseas as it is in its native land.
But what can you expect should you decide to buy a bottle yourself. We’re going to take an in-depth look at the wine and what goes into its production.
The General Info
So, what should you expect from the wine itself?
Firstly, it’s important to know where it’s made and the grape that’s used in its production. The wine comes from the Montepulciano grape, which is primarily grown in the Abruzzo region. Located in central Italy this region is renowned for the quality of its grapes, with Montepulciano being just one of many to call it home.
As for the wine itself, it’s a rich red wine made primarily using the Montepulciano grape. This is something that trips many people up. A wine that carries a similar name is also produced in Tuscany. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano may give you the impression that it’s made using the Montepulciano grape. However, that particular wine is actually made primarily using Sangiovese.
Look for the d’Abruzzo label to know that you’re getting your hands on the real thing.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a DOC wine and has been since 1968. This makes it one of the earliest wines to carry the denomination. There is also a DOCG version. However, this label is only given to the wines made around the Teramo region. Suitably, these wines carry the name Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane and have carried the DOCG rating since 2003.
The wine itself is still seen as one of the big up and comers in the Italian wine industry. Its popularity may have peaked during the early 21stcentury, which is when the wine really started to take off in foreign territories. At that point, it became one of the most exported DOC wines from Italy.
The wine is made primarily using the Montepulciano grape. To attain DOC status, it must contain at least 85% of this grape, with the rest being made using the Sangiovese grape. No other grapes are permitted when making a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
As for the wine itself, it usually have a rather dry complexion. It’s also one of the few great Italian reds that people drink young. This is likely because of its soft tannic structure. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo makes for a great introduction to the world of Italian red wine, which is likely why its popularity is so high in foreign territories.
Having said that, the wine does benefit from ageing. Any Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that undergoes at least two years of ageing can carry the special “Riserva” label.
The Notes and Textures
Now that you know the basics, let’s dig a little deeper into the notes and textures that make this wine so special.
Generally speaking, a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo will have a deep colouring and features a number of spicy notes. Pepper is also often noted, which many believe lends the wine a sort of rustic charm. You may also spot a number of earthy notes in the wine. Plus, it has a degree of fruitiness due to the blackberry notes that most Montepulciano d’Abruzzo contain.
This also means that the wine pairs well with many foods, particularly meats that can benefit from the addition of spices.
In terms of complexion, the wines usually offer a diverse and rather strong bouquet that you can spend a lot of time getting lost in. They have soft tannins, which combine with low acidity to make the wine rather easier to drink than many of the more complex reds that the Italian wine industry is renowned for.
Ageing doesn’t seem to have a huge effect on the wine. While it generally becomes a little more refined, you won’t notice a huge difference between the standard Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a Riserva version. Whether this is a good or bad thing is really up to the drinker. It makes the wine more accessible for people who are looking for a good wine that they don’t have to make an effort with. However, those who leave it in a cellar for several years may end up disappointed at the lack of changes in the wine.
The Rosé Variety
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the Riserva versions are perhaps the most popular forms of the wine. There’s also the DOCG Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane to consider.
But those who have more delicate sensibilities will also be delighted to hear that Montepulciano d’Abruzzo comes in a Rosé variety.
You can spot these wines as they will carry the Cerasuolo label. That’s important as the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Rosé is difficult to distinguish from a regular red wine. It has a much deeper colouring that most Rosés, which leads to many mistaking it for a regular red wine.
These versions of the wine also tend to have a lot more fruity notes than the standard versions. It’s not uncommon to notice the scents of dried cherries, orange peel, and strawberry in its bouquet.
The Cerasuolo is a fairly new addition to the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo family. In fact, it only achieved its own DOC certification back in 2010. But it may be an option for people who usually gravitate to white wines but still want to give Montepulciano d’Abruzzo a try.
The Final Word
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo has fast become one of the most popular Italian wines, especially for people outside of Italy. Its accessibility plays a huge role in that, but don’t let yourself think that this means the wine carries no quality. This is an exceptional wine that all Italian wine lovers should cherish.
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