After 1 week travel in gorgeous Tuscany, more precisely in Montepulciano, I can not share with other Italian wine lovers the wonders of the "Vino Nobile di Montepulciano".
Made from the sangiovese grape (locally known as Prugnolo gentile), these wines can have a bit of other grape varieties (the most recent producers add Cab Sauvignon or Merlot, but the most common addition is the "canaiolo nero" local grape). The addition of the French varieties I found to smoothen the wines and make them easier to drink young (4-5 years old).
Many, many, names (Producers) to find, so not an easy choice overall. Some names worth mentioning (and trying): Crociani, Innocenti, Croce di febo, Avignonesi, Polliziano, etc etc
The oldest vintages I had the chance of tasting (1999, 2002, 2004) are terrific, especially the 2004, but even the younger ones (2008 is great!) show the earthy character, the balance, the gorgeous fruit and resinous aromas. In some we could even find a "meaty character" to add to the complexity and balance of these wines. Great tannins, great for meat dishes (a must with the Tuscan "Pici al Ragù"!).
Much less famous than their "Brunello di Montalcino" neighbours (also terrific, obviously), the "Vino Nobile" have another advantage that is their price... A top bottle from one of the many recent and exciting producers can be bought by less than 25 Euros. The Riserva are always a bit more expensive and should be drank a bit older (over 5-7 years after bottling) since the tannins are still always a bit sharper.
I leave you with the website of one of the most interesting producers I had the chance of knowing on this recent trip. http://www.crocedifebo.com/
A great producer, using biodinamic techniques together with tradition, that result in beautiful, elegant and easy-drinking wines.
Look out for these wines, and please, enjoy!
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano indeed...!
Vino Nobile indeed
- Reply by EMark, Aug 5, 2013.
Thanks for the report, Dias. There have been Vino Nobile di Montepulciano conversations here on the Snooth Forum (use the "Search" box in the upper right), but your "on the scene" report is appreciated.
- Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 5, 2013.
EricGuido introduced me to the pleasures of Vino Nobile at dinner last fall. He brought a really nice bottle from 2001. Like a lot of Brunello, it still was too young! By the end of dinner, it had unwound a bit and was showing its adult character, but a few more years in bottle were in order. I hope to revisit that and others soon. EG's comment was that later vintages of that wine were made in a more international style (probably with more included non-local varieties, and picked riper). While this made them immediately approachable, the trade-off was a loss of character. Now, sangiovese's character can be a bit sharp at times, and that stands to be reined in, but some of the improvements lead to a sameness that impoverishes our wine experience rather than enriching it. Why seek out a wine if it's like every other wine?
And of course one big disadvantage to Vino Nobile is that you have to make an effort to find much of it here in the states. Trader Joe's usually carries some, but it's likely to be produced in a more generic international style. Quality is also all over the map. On the west coast, at least here in Northern California, we have a couple of importers who specialize in Italian wine (Oliver McCrum is one, but he doesn't carry anything from Tuscany), and even two shops in SF, but between the two of them, they carry a whopping ONE Vino Nobile. (K&L carries two, FWIW, but only one in the stores.) It's a shame, because, like Ghemme, it could be a nice, reasonably priced alternative to a more expensive wine. (Brunello for VN, Barolo and Barbaresco for Ghemme.) But they are harder to find than four leaf clovers.