This episode of “Wine 101” options Maze Row Wine Service provider’s esteemed associate Allegrini, which is positioned in northern Italy, within the Veneto area. The Allegrini household dates again to 6 generations of creating wine within the Valpolicella area, which suggests “land of many cellars.” Valpolicella can be the identify of one in every of Allegrini’s most well-known crimson wines, produced from the historic grape referred to as Corvina that imparts signature notes of almond. To strive Allegrini, comply with the hyperlink within the episode description to TheBarrelRoom.com.
On this episode of “Wine 101,” VinePair’s tastings director Keith Beavers explores each the grape and the city Montepulciano and the way these two sharing the identical identify can create confusion for wine drinkers. Tune in to be taught extra.
Or Examine Out the Dialog Right here
Keith Beavers: My identify is Keith Beavers, and look, there’s a giant divide between chocolate and white chocolate lovers, proper? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup white chocolate versus Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup darkish and milk chocolate. I imply the white chocolate, when it hits, it simply hits me. What am I? Oh, I’m doing an episode.
What’s occurring, wine lovers? From VinePair’s podcasting community, that is “Wine 101.” My identify is Keith Beavers. I’m the tastings director of VinePair. And the way are you this week? In the present day?
Oh, sure, we keep in Tuscany. We’re nonetheless in Italy. We’ve extra to speak about. There’s a giant confusion on this one phrase: Montepulciano. It’s a grape, it’s a city. It’s two totally different areas. How can we..? Let’s clear some stuff up.
Okay, wine lovers. I bear in mind the day it occurred to me and I’ll always remember it as a result of after it occurred as soon as, it continued to occur, and I used to be like, “Okay, we obtained to clear some issues up right here.”
It was a very long time in the past. I had an Italian wine bar and restaurant. I used to be behind the bar one night time. This couple is available in. They’d simply come again from Italy. They have been awash within the Italian tradition. They needed to return straight to an Italian place after being on the “boot.” And it was so fantastic. Let’s proceed this awesomeness. You know the way it’s. They check out the wine checklist they usually go, “Oh, look, Montepulciano. We’ll have two glasses of Montepulciano, please.” All proper. So I’m pouring them every a glass of Montepulciano. And as I’m pouring the glass, they’re speaking about their journey and the way a lot they liked it. And the way they have been romping across the Chianti Hills. They usually ended up in a spot referred to as Siena. After which from Siena, they went to this well-known city referred to as Montepulciano.
And the wine was simply fantastic and the views and the individuals and the tradition and the meals — it was so nice. They usually’re so blissful to be sitting right here in New York, having a glass of… wait? I used to be pouring them a glass of Montepulciano. They have been speaking a few city referred to as Montepulciano considering they have been going to have a wine from… It was just a little bit complicated. So, I needed to clarify to them that what they’re ingesting will not be from the city that they visited. That is one thing fully totally different. And the look of confusion on their faces was similar to, “Wait, what?” However they did benefit from the wine that was of their glass. Now, I do know you proper now are going, “Okay, Keith, this can be a enjoyable story however I’m so confused.” And that’s sort of the purpose as a result of wine is so historical. And the phrases that affiliate with the wines are additionally historical and the world occurs and phrases get blended up.
And the phrase Montepulciano on the American marketplace for wine is sort of complicated, as a result of not solely is it a grape, nevertheless it’s additionally a city, and people two issues usually are not associated in any respect. So let me clear the Montepulciano problem up right here. In central Italy on the japanese coast is a area referred to as Abruzzo, at one level it was referred to as Abruzzi. So that you would possibly see that round, and it’s just a little bit complicated as a result of sooner or later this area was cut up up right into a bunch of smaller little areas due to some royal man who needed to divide his realm. However sooner or later, the federal government cut up Abruzzo with one other area referred to as Molise, which was a part of Abruzzo. So now it’s Abruzzo after which Molise is a separate area. That’s complicated however I simply wanted to get it on the market. Since you’re going to see that.
Anyway, Abruzzo could be very, type of mountainous. I imply, extraordinarily — loads of locations in Italy are historical — however Abruzzo is historical, like loopy historical as a result of it’s on the Adriatic. So it’s had loads of people coming and going for lengthy durations of time. Going again to the Neolithic period, there’s really fossils from the Neolithic period there. Abruzzo has primarily two varieties. There’s a white wine grape and a crimson wine grape. The white wine grape known as Trebbiano and that’s their white wine grape. It’s their white wine. Their crimson wine grape known as Montepulciano. And whenever you drink a wine, a crimson wine from Abruzzo, you’re ingesting a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The grape Montepulciano, from the area of Abruzzo, and sooner or later we’ll do an episode on Abruzzo and undergo all of the small little areas in there as a result of they’ve performed loads of work to convey themselves into the way forward for wine.
There are some DOCG issues occurring in there — Montepulciano taking up totally different personalities and so is Trebbiano. It’s very cool. That is Montepulciano. And whenever you go to a wine bar in the US, particularly an Italian wine bar or Italian restaurant, it’s usually the case that essentially the most reasonably priced wine by the glass and essentially the most reasonably priced wine by the bottle is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. There’s a giant manufacturing occurring in Abruzzo. And you will see loads of it on the American market. There are loads of winemakers in Abruzzo which are making extra targeted, extra structured, darkish, stunning Montepulciano. However what you’re going to see loads on the American market is nice, on a regular basis, reasonably priced Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Should you have been to stroll from Abruzzo, northwest into Chianti, in direction of the province of Siena, it could take you about two and a half days give or take.
And it’s within the province of Siena that there’s a city referred to as Montepulciano. It’s spelled precisely just like the grape in Abruzzo. And the city of Montepulciano could be very well-known within the Chianti, Siena space. It has a really storied previous. It has loads of documentation, like loads of well-documented wine areas in Italy. You might have a pope’s cellar grasp saying how nice the wine is. It begins exhibiting up in information across the late 18th century and the city itself is on a hill after which surrounded by hills. And on these slopes of these hills grows Sangiovese. And right here they name their Sangiovese “Prugnolo Gentile.” Simply west of the township of Montepulciano and its surrounding vineyards is a valley. After which one other grouping of hills across the township of Valiano. And on these slopes, they develop Sangiovese. That is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wine area of Italy.
And also you’ll bear in mind from the earlier episode of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, similar to Brunello or Barolo or Barbaresco, claimed to be the primary DOCG on the Italian market. Unsure who was the primary, however these 4 in a single yr have been awarded DOCG. So, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a very essential area. And what’s attention-grabbing is that it’s smack dab in the midst of two different kinds in that you’ve the Chianti area surrounding it, after which you may have Brunello di Montalcino very near it. And never solely is it sort of between two kinds, the area itself, due to its fashionable historical past and guidelines and altering of guidelines, additionally has two totally different kinds inside its personal area. This area and its guidelines have gone by a big quantity of adjustments all through the years too. I feel, to me, it sounds loads prefer it was attempting to modernize itself whereas nonetheless attempting to carry onto its conventional values in wine.
And the result’s two totally different kinds inside the area like I stated. Historically, wines from Vino Nobile di Montepulciano have been based mostly on Sangiovese, similar to loads of wines on this space, however have been additionally blended with native grapes like Canaiolo, Mamolo, and even some Trebbiano, the white wine that I discussed from Abruzzo. And similar to in Chianti, over time Sangiovese grew to become the predominant selection within the mix. And when the principles have been being modified all through this contemporary historical past of this area, Sangiovese took a outstanding position. Then sooner or later throughout the historical past of this DOCG, they modified the principles once more to permit worldwide varieties, or I ought to simply say French Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Amarone selection, Syrah. When worldwide varieties have been formally allowed in these blends, it created loads of controversy with traditionalists saying, “What are you doing? You’re messing with the terroir-driven wines this place has at all times been recognized for.”
Nicely, what it did was it really divided the producers of the area. A few of them benefit from the older model. A few of them benefit from the newer model. So now we have now these two personalities in a single area based mostly solely on the winemaking model. Should you have been to do the extra conventional model with the native varieties, due to Canaiolo and Mamolo, these wines want just a little bit extra extended growing old. Once you mix it with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and even Syrah, and also you expose it to new French oak, it may be prepared sooner. And loads of winemakers sooner or later opted for that. And though the extra fashionable strategy gained dominance for fairly a while, that’s in the present day beginning to wane just a little bit with loads of winemakers going again in direction of the extra conventional technique.
And with that age-worthiness, I’m not likely certain if the principles are going to vary once more, however one factor they do have in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, similar to in Brunello di Montalcino, they’ve one other DOC referred to as Rosso di Montepulciano, which is why that may be launched earlier. And what’s rising is the extra common model tends to be in the present day… It’s really sort of cool, it’s proper between the tanginess and the cherry notes of a Chianti within the deep darkish, absolutely structured-ness of Brunello di Montalcino. It’s sort of proper within the center. It’s deep in coloration. It’s darkish, it’s mushy. It does have good acidity they usually have age-worthiness to them as nicely, nevertheless it’s not going to be as age-worthy as Brunello di Montalcino, extra alongside the strains of a Chianti, possibly a pair years give or take, however the DOCGs do see two years earlier than launch.
So there’s loads occurring right here. You might have a really well-known area that’s surrounded by different well-known areas that has its personal character, however really has two personalities. However even then it has a character that’s much like the 2 neighboring areas round it. It’s simply an expression of Sangiovese. And like I stated, within the Tuscany episode, that’s what Tuscany principally is. Quite a lot of these areas are simply totally different expressions of Sangiovese. And the rationale why I stated, “Should you walked,” as a result of why would I say that? I used to be fascinated about how vines journey. And I used to be fascinated about the proximity of the Chianti area and Abruzzo and the way Abruzzo is a part of central Italy. And that north of Abruzzo is a tremendous place referred to as Le Marche, one other nice episode we should always do. In Le Marche, they mix Sangiovese with Montepulciano in two of their wine areas.
However in Abruzzo, no. I imply, I’m certain there’s Sangiovese there, nevertheless it’s not a factor. Montepulciano guidelines the day. And in spite of everything this time, they don’t seem to be all for Sangiovese, though it surrounds them. However I used to be trying on the path from the city of Montepulciano, like strolling, to Abruzzo, and also you move by some cities. You get Montepulciano, in fact, the city. You begin from there. You move by Perugia in Umbria, Montefalco in Umbria, Todi, Terni. These are important cities. And in Perugia in Montefalco, you’ll discover Sangiovese. Sangiovese exhibits up.
The factor is whenever you’re trying on the origins of Montepulciano, there’s not loads occurring there. It’s the crimson grape of the world of Abruzzo, it’s been there endlessly and that’s their grape. However due to that type of line of commerce and journey between the 2 cities, when you have been to simply do this stroll, it does make sense that, as a result of it’s central Italy and Sangiovese is so outstanding, that for a very long time, there have been individuals really calling Montepulciano “Sangiovese,” so there’s loads of confusion there as nicely.
And I’m not likely certain about how the grape Montepulciano grew to become that Montepulciano, nevertheless it does appear there was just a little little bit of confusion someplace within the Center Ages between the city and the grape. However that is the way it works out now: Should you’re ingesting a crimson wine from Abruzzo, it’s going to be from the grape Montepulciano, and it’s going to be referred to as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Should you’re ingesting a wine from the DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, you will be ingesting a wine based mostly off the Sangiovese grape. The identify of the wine is called after the city. That’s the confusion. And lots of people, after they go to Italy to go to, lots of people go to Tuscany. It is without doubt one of the most traveled Italian areas for vacationers in existence in Italy.
So when individuals come again, they usually have gone to the city — the gorgeous city — of Montepulciano. And at first of this episode, once I was speaking about that couple, this occurred loads at my Italian restaurant. As a result of there was confusion there. However the factor is, there’s one thing stunning in each. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a very superior wine to discover as a result of it has these two totally different kinds inside it. They’re very age-worthy they usually’re stunning, elegant, majestic, Italian crimson wines. Then you may have the grape Montepulciano in Abruzzo — wonderful wine. There are individuals making Abruzzo Montepulciano that’s costly, small-production, well-structured stunning stuff, however there are loads of winemakers on the market making superb, straightforward ingesting, on a regular basis meals to share with pals, communal Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. So I hope I cleared issues up for you guys.
So whenever you’re on the market, you recognize what you’re taking a look at, you recognize what you’re having fun with. You’re not going to be confused, as a result of wine could be complicated. It’s historical and we’re deciphering it now. I’ll see you subsequent week.
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And now, for some completely superior credit. “Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours actually, Keith Beavers, on the VinePair headquarters in New York Metropolis. I wish to give a giant ol’ shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Huge shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the artwork director of VinePair, for creating essentially the most superior brand for this podcast. Additionally, Darbi Cicci for the theme track. Take heed to this. And I wish to thank the complete VinePair workers for serving to me be taught one thing new day by day. See you subsequent week.
Ed. observe: This episode has been edited for size and readability.