100% Montepulciano [Mawn-teh-pool-CHA-noh] I personally always make the point of pronouncing it in as ridiculously strong of an Italian accent as possible, with plenty of hand gestures (no matter where I am): Montepulciano!!!
- The first question I always end up answering about Montepulciano (as a grape) is: “What is it most similar to?”
The best way I’ve found to describe Montepulciano is almost as a cross between Merlot and Chianti. The body and fruit personally reminds me of a juicy and medium-bodied Merlot, whereas some of the red cherry fruit and acidic backbone skews more Chianti-esque
- By Italian standards, the Barba winery is an absolute baby, and has only been pumping out vino since 1991.
- The Barba family can trace its family roots back to Naples around the 1400s. Francesco Barba served was a tax collector for Pope Sisto IV from 1471-1484.
- I’ve always found Montepulciano to be one of the most approachable Italian wines. Once people get around the pronunciation, and get it into their mouth, most people find it to be incredibly easy drinking. Coupled with the fact that the wines rarely get over $20 retail, I see no reason why you shouldn’t stick a bottle of Monte on your next wine shopping list. Seriously. Do it.
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a greater region within the larger Abruzzo region on the Eastern coast of Italy. It was awarded DOC status in 1968.
- Montepulciano d’Abruzzo shouldn’t be confused with the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano region in Tuscany, where the wines are made from Sangiovese.
- The main problem with the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo region is that the grape yields are just too damn high! You see, how many grapes a vineyard is allowed to grow is often limited (by law) throughout a great number of Italy’s wine regions. If the yields are set too high, the wines will often not reach their full potential. It’s something that the Abruzzo needs to deal with (and fast) if they’re ever going to compete with the more famous regions.
- Addressing the issue of overplanting, Barba started replacing a great number of their vines in 1993. The problem was that an overhead trellising system was previously used (referred to in Italy as a “tendone” vine training system), with the result being extremely high yields. The new vines at Barba incorporate a more modern trellising system
- If a winery choose to age their Montepulciano by at least 2 years, they may label it as a “Riserva.”
A tricky one! I never would have guessed it was a Montepulciano from the nose…or maybe it’s been far too long since I’ve had one. It’s all dark fruit upfront on the nose, but not as much in the mouth. Quite full-bodied for a Montepulciano. Heavy on the dark cherry, and then plum, licorice, tree bark, olives and even a little cow manure. Yummo! No seriously though, don’t be put-off by the cow manure comment, it was actually quite a good wine.
I didn’t pair it with anything. I shared the bottle with the Mrs. whilst I wrote this review and she sat on the couch and read some trashy novel (after a long day at work)….but I’m guessing you might want a little more than that…
Red sauce pasta all the way, baby! You really can’t go wrong with that, but you might also want to try eggplant, pecorino, pizza, truffles, grilled meats, duck and stews.