Wine and Culture: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

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Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is one of Italy’s classic Sangiovese-based red wines and is produced on the hills surrounding the town of Montepulciano.

Montepulciano is located 40 km southeast of Siena, in the Colli Senesi zone of the Chianti wine region, Tuscany.

The viticulture of the region dates back to Etruscan times, which has been proven through excavation work carried out on an Etruscan tomb discovered in 1868.

The first historical document to mention Montepulciano wines was in clerical correspondence from 789 A.D.

By the 15th century Montepulciano wine was loved by the Sienese and Florentine aristocracy, and even Pope Paul III commented on its magnificence in the 16th century.

The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was also mentioned in literary works, including the 1685 poem ‘Bacco in Toscana’ by Francesco Redi (1626-1687), the famous scientist, physician, academician and poet. The poem of Redi was widely read, and it reached many courts throughout Europe including the court of William III of England. Perhaps the then well-known poem of Francesco Redi sufficiently attracted the attention of King William III to Montepulciano wine, as it became one of his favourites.

Vino Nobile was also cited later in Candide by Voltaire in 1759 and also in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo in 1844.

In the 19th century, the Vino Nobile went through a period of decline, and was often labelled as Chianti. However, in 1966 with the arrival of DOC, and in 1981 with the DOCG regulation, it reaffirmed its rightful place as its name suggests, an excellent and noble wine, and the pride of Tuscany.

According to DOCG rules, a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano must come from grapes grown on the hills surrounded Montepulciano. It must comprise at least 70% Sangiovese grape, and be complemented by other local varieties to a maximum of 30%.

The Vino Nobile needs to be aged for at least 24 months of which at least 12 months must spent in oak barrels. For Vino Nobile Riserva, the ageing period is 26 months.

Montepulciano also produces a sweet white wine, Vin Santo di Montepulciano, and a dry red, Rosso di Montepulciano.

 

Pictures:

Montepulciano, Italy

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