Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

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Montepulciano grape growing in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy.

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is a red Italian wine made from the Montepulciano wine grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy.[1] It should not be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a Tuscan wine made from Sangiovese and other grapes.[2]

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo was classified as Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) in 1968; a separate Denominazione di origine controllata e Garantita (DOCG) for wine produced around Teramo, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane (Teramo hills), was established in 1995 and promoted in 2003.[3][4]

In the late 20th and early 21st century, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo earned a reputation as one of the most widely exported DOC wines in Italy.[4] It is typically dry with soft tannins and often consumed young.

In addition to Montepulciano, up to 15% Sangiovese is permitted in the blend. Wines aged by the maker for more than two years may be labeled "Riserva." [5]

Wine region[edit]

Map of the Abruzzo region and its four provinces where Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is produced.

The DOC region for Montepulciano d'Abruzzo covers a vast expanse of land in the Abruzzo region between the Apennines foothills down to a few miles inland from the Adriatic coast.[2] The region is one of Italy's most mountainous with more than 65% of all Abruzzo being considered mountainous terrain with the Apennines peaks reaching up to 9000 feet above sea level. The hillside vineyards planted on calcareous clay benefit from warm and significant sun exposure that is ventilated by dry breezes coming off the Adriatic.[6]

Montepulciano is produced in all four provinces of Abruzzo--L'Aquila, Chieti, Pescara and Teramo—with the southern fertile province of Chieti producing the largest total quantity of wine. The mountainous province of L'Aquila is noted mainly for the dry rose labeled as Cerasuolo produced in the DOC. The most favorable vineyards are planted in the northern provinces of Pescara and Teramo with the later having it own DOCG designation above Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.[6] These northern provinces benefit from having less fertile soils with more ferrous clay and limestone mix and higher elevations as the Apennines draw closer to the Adriatic. This creates cooler micro-climates that tend to produce more concentrated wines.[4]

In 2004, there were approximately 18,000 acres (7,300 ha) planted in the DOC.[3] In 2005, the DOC produced over 500,000 hectoliters of wine with more than two thirds of it being produced in the Chieti province.[4]

DOC requirements[edit]

A Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine labelled as being made from old vines.

Under Italian wine laws, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo can be produced as a rosé (where it is usually labeled as Cerasuolo). The wine must be composed of a minimum of 85% Montepulciano with up to 15% of Sangiovese permitted to fill out the remainder of the wine. Grapes are harvested to a yield no greater than 14 tonnes per hectare.[3]

The wine must be aged for a minimum of 5 months prior to release with bottles labeled as Vecchio further aged a minimum of two years in wood barrels. Additionally, all Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines must have a minimum alcohol level of at least 12%.[3]

Colline Teramane DOCG[edit]

Within the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC region is the smaller Colline Teramane (Teramo hills) DOCG that is produced in the province of Teramo from vineyards planted in Teramo and 30 surrounding communes. Established first as a DOC in 1995, the region was promoted to DOCG status in 2003.[4] The regulations for the wine are similar to Montepulciano d'Abruzzo except that the wine needs to be made from a minimum of 90% Montepulciano with a maximum of 10% Sangiovese permitted.[6]

Wine styles[edit]

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is often paired with food.

According to wine expert Oz Clarke, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is often a deeply colored wine with pepper and spice notes. It can be described as "rustic" which Clarke says is less pronounced when the wine is paired with food.[2] Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan describes the wines as aromatic, tannic and with low acidity.[6] According to Italian wine expert Joe Bastianich, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo's can be highly aromatic with earthy notes and black berries and have inky-purple color with a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel.[4]

While Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is often consumed young, the wine does have some aging potential with producers such as Stefano Illuminati of the Controguerra winery Illuminati noting that the wine doesn't really change much in 10 years which can have its benefits and disadvantages because "on one hand, you open a well-aged Montepulciano and it is still fresh and full-bodied. On the other hand, you don't always get the more complex secondary aromas that develop with age."[4]

Cerasuolo[edit]

The rosé style of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is labeled as Cerasuolo which means "cherry-red" and relates to the deep color the wine gets even with very brief skin-contact with the highly pigmented skins of the Montepulciano grape. According to Bastianich, Cerasuolo's tend to be medium-body and rather hearty for an Italian rosé with aromas of orange peel, cinnamon, strawberry and dried cherries.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ winepros.com.au. Oxford Companion to Wine. "Montepulciano". 
  2. ^ a b c O. Clarke Oz Clarke's Encyclopedia of Wine pg 251 Time Warner Books, London 2003 ISBN 0-316-72654-0
  3. ^ a b c d P. Saunders Wine Label Language pp. 182 Firefly Books 2004 ISBN 1-55297-720-X
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h J. Bastianich & D. Lynch Vino Italiano pg 280-283 Crown Publishing 2005 ISBN 1-4000-9774-6
  5. ^ Robinson, Jancis, Vines, Grapes & Wines, p.212, Mitchell Beazley 1986, ISBN 1-85732-999-6
  6. ^ a b c d M. Ewing-Mulligan & E. McCarthy Italian Wines for Dummies pg 188-190 Hungry Minds 2001 ISBN 0-7645-5355-0