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Do You Prefer Montepulciano or Montepulciano?

December 22, 2016 14 comments

Nope, no typo in that title. And no, I’m not losing it. Not yet anyway.

Yes, the title is purposefully misleading. But within a reason – and I’m not looking to gain any unjust benefit from the confusion.

As most of you know, Montepulciano happened to be the name of the indigenous Italian grape, popular in central regions of Abruzzo and Marche. Montepulciano is also the name of the small medieval town, right in the heart of Tuscany, where the grape called Sangiovese is a king. The wine produced around the town of Montepulciano, which dates back to the 14th century, is called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and to be called Vino Nobile the wine should contain at least 70% of Sangiovese grapes. What is also worth mentioning that Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was the very first DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in Italy, awarded in 1984 – the emphasis here is on Garantita, denoting highest quality Italian wines.

A picture worth thousand words, so here is an infographic which nicely lines up all the confusing Montepulciano:

Montepulciano Infographic Italy

Infographic courtesy of Mosiah Culver

Now, let’s go back to the main question, only let’s ask it in a less controversial way –  do you prefer Montepulciano or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine? The answer to such a question requires some wine drinking, so let’s fight it off with maybe some of the very best examples of both – Masciarelli Marina Cvetić Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Masciarelli Tenute Agricole was established in 1978 by Gianni Masciarelli in San Martino, Chieti Abruzzo. In 1989, Giovanni married Marina Cvetic, who took over winemaking duties. Today Marina overseeing about 750 acres of estate vineyards, producing about 2.5 million bottles a year – of course, not only Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, but many different wines – you can find more information here.

The wine we are tasting today, Masciarelli Marina Cvetić Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva, is a flagship wine, which won numerous accolades from the critics around the world, and it is definitely a beautiful example of how good Montepulciano wine can be.

Avignonesi estate was founded in 1974, and the Avignonesi family was instrumental in helping the regions to obtain DOCG status and promote Vino Nobile wines worldwide. From 2009, the estate, which comprise today 495 acres of vineyards in Montepulciano and Cortona appellations and produces about 750,000 bottles per year, is owned by Virginie Saverys. She works tirelessly to convert the estate to organic and biodynamic winemaking, and Avignonesi is expecting to get its organic certification in 2016. You can learn more about the estate and its wines here.

The wine we are drinking today is Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which goes way beyond the requirements of the DOCG and made from 100% Sangiovese sourced from 8 best vineyards of the Avignonesi estate. If you will look at the suggested price ($29), in conjunction with the quality, this wine would easily beat many of its famous Brunello neighbors. Many critics also concur, as the wine repeatedly gets high scores and makes to the various “Top” lists.

Here are my notes for these two wines:

2011 Masciarelli Marina Cvetić Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva (14% ABV, $28, 100% Montepulciano, 12/18months in oak barriques, 100% new)
C: dark garnet
N: cherries, tar, roasted meat, undertones of sage
P: sweet cherries, perfume, open, layered, clean, good balance, very approachable and ready to drink from the get go
V: 8/8+, sexy, luscious and delicious

2013 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG (14% ABV, $29, 100% Sangiovese, 12 months French barriques, 6 months large Slavonian oak casks, 6+ months in the bottle)
C: brilliant ruby
N: herbs, sage, hint of black fruit, restrained
P: sweet and tart cherries, earthy, leather, touch of cherry pits, touch of tannins, good balance. Very long finish with fruit dominating.
V: 8. surprisingly ready to drink (unlike some Vino Nobile which I had before). Classic Italian wine all around, with finesse.

As you can tell, I really liked both wines, probably hedging a bit more towards Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – these are very well made wines, different and excellent in its own right – and by the way, both would perfectly brighten up your holidays :).

What do you think? Which Montepulciano would you prefer, not only from these two wines but in general? Cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, #MWWC7 Few Days Left, Cali Crush Report, Wines At State Dinner, And More

February 13, 2014 1 comment

Meritage time!

Let’s start with the answer for the wine quiz #92, grape trivia – Montepulciano. In the quiz, you were supposed to answer 5 questions about indigenous Italian grape called Montepulciano. Here are the questions, now with the answers:

Q1: In the number of regions, Montepulciano is often blended with … [name that grape]

A1: Sangiovese is a popular blending partner of Montepulciano.

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Montepulciano – based wines rated in the Classic category

A2: False. There a few Montepulciano wines with the ratings of 95 or above. For example, 2000 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d’Abruzzo got 97 points from the Wine Spectator.

Q3: From the list below, which state in US doesn’t make any Montepulciano wines of notice:

a. California, b. Maryland, c. North Carolina, d. Texas, e. Washington

A3: Interestingly enough, Washington so far doesn’t have any Montepulciano plantings of notice.

Q4: True or false: from 2000 to 2010, plantings of Montepulciano in Italy increased by more than 15%

A4: True. Plantings of Montepulciano in Italy increased from 28,679 acres in 2000 to the 34,824 in 2010.

Q5: Best known Montepulciano wine comes from Abruzzo in Italy and it is known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Do you know the name of the white wine commonly produced in Abruzzo?

A5: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is a white wine from the Abruzzo region.

When it come to the results, first of all, we had very good participation in the quiz, quite a few answers. And, most importantly – we have a winner! Tracy Lee Karner answered all 5 questions correctly, so she gets the top prize of unlimited bragging rights! Great job! I also would like to acknowledge Suzanne of apuginthekitchen and Mario Plazio (no web site), who both got 4 questions out of 5 correctly. Very well done!

Now, to the interesting stuff around the vine and the web!

Boy, I have a lot of interesting reads for you. First of all, there are only a few days left to submit your entry for #MWWC7, “Devotion”. Over the past few days there were quite a few submission, which is great. I have a problem to come to grips with this theme, as “devotion” doesn’t trigger any mental image for me – I would much happier deal with “obsession” or at least a “dedication”. Anyway, may be my muse will still come, all covered in the snow? No matter – get your wine devotion story going! Here you will find rules and submissions to the date.

Like the grapes and the numbers? I personally do – I don’t even know why. Anyway, the California Agricultural Statistics service just released the numbers for the 2013 grape crush report – 4.23 million tons of grapes were crushed last year, up 5% from the 2012. The most crushed grape in California was Chardonnay, closely followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and then Zinfandel. For all the numbers please take a look at this article at WineBusiness.com.

Now, I want to share with you two interesting articles from the Dr. Vino’s blog. First, it is always interesting to know what the other people drink, right? Don’t you try to glance at the label of the wine been served at the table next to you? So this is not just some other random people we are talking about here – Dr. Vino analyses selection of the wines from the State Dinner given by US President in honor of the high guest from France. Here is the article – and similar to the Dr. Vino’s opinion, my question is – really? These are the best wines made in US? Okay, okay – I didn’t taste either one of the particular 3 wines served at that dinner – in case you have, I would be really interested in your opinion.

Last, but not least for today is another article from Dr. Vino’s blog – a short post about the sale of the wines at the auction in Chicago. Considering all the stories about the counterfeit wines nowadays, it is not surprising that the wines with the guaranteed provenance are sold at the premium nowadays. But for me personally, it is the data in that old receipt which is very interesting – $78.99 for the Echezeaux or $68.99 for Vosnee-Romanee – sigh, and another sigh – are those days gone forever?

And we are done here. The glass is empty – but the refill is on its way! Cheers!

Weekly Wine Quiz #92: Grape Trivia – Montepulciano

February 8, 2014 13 comments
Montepulciano grapes Source: Wikipedia

Montepulciano grapes Source: Wikipedia

The Wine Quiz series is not meant to intimidate. The whole idea here is to have fun and learn something new. When answering the questions, it is fully encouraged to use all available sources of information, including Google or any other search engine. There are no embarrassing answers – the most embarrassing thing is not giving it a try…

Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!

We are continuing our grape trivia series, with the focus still on the red grapes, and today’s subject is Montepulciano.

Montepulciano is an indigenous Italian grape variety, recommended for use in 20 out of 95 wine regions in Italy, and one of the most planted red grapes in the country. The origins of Montepulciano are hard to pinpoint, with some sources citing the grape been growing on the hills of Abruzzo since the ancient times, and some sources suggesting that the grape was brought into the Abruzzo region from the neighboring Tuscany at the end of the 18th century. Also an interesting “gotcha” is associated with the name of the grape itself. It seems that the name of the grape, Montepulciano, is given after the town in Tuscany, also called Montepulciano, where the grape supposedly came from. But the problem is that the wine produced in Montepulciano has nothing to do with Montepulciano grape! Town of Montepulciano produces the wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made out of 100% Sangiovese grape! Yep, that’s what I call confusing.

Montepulciano is a late ripening variety, with thick black skin and relatively low acidity. It produces wines which are quite dry, with cherry and cherry pit (did you ever try to eat the content of the cherry pit?) flavors, full bodied and easy to drink. While a lot of Montepulciano wines are easy to drink but not necessarily memorable, proper care and reduced yields can result in the world-class wines. Absolute majority of Montepulciano wines are produced in Italy, with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Rosso Piceno and Rosso Conero probably been best known areas, but Montepulciano plantings also exist in Argentina, New Zealand and the United States.

And now, to the quiz!

Q1: In the number of regions, Montepulciano is often blended with … [name that grape]

Q2: Wine Spectator calls wines rated in 95-100 range Classic (the highest and the most prestigious category). True or False: there are no Montepulciano – based wines rated in the Classic category

Q3: From the list below, which state in US doesn’t make any Montepulciano wines of notice:

a. California

b. Maryland

c. North Carolina

d. Texas

e. Washington

Q4: True or false: from 2000 to 2010, plantings of Montepulciano in Italy increased by more than 15%

Q5: Best known Montepulciano wine comes from Abruzzo in Italy and it is known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Do you know the name of the white wine commonly produced in Abruzzo?

Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!

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