70% Montepulciano, 30% Sangiovese.
- “Excuse me…yes, hello! This is my first time in your wine store and I was wondering if you could help me. I read this review online today written by this delightful Englishman and I was hoping you know it. The wine is: Saladini Pilastri ‘Vigna Monteprandone,’ Rosso Piceno Superiore from Marches, Italy. Do you have it?”
- The name of this wine doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, now does it? And therein lies the problem! What are the chances you would order this wine in a restaurant, at least, what are the chances you would order this wine and have a crack at pronouncing it?
Hell, I think I do a fairly good job at banging-out the pronunciation on this one, and EVEN I wouldn’t order it by name! No, unfortunately I’d have to revert to the old tried-and-tested “Could I get a bottle of this one…” as I stab my finger at the wine’s name on the wine list.
I’m not saying that wineries such as Saladini Pilastri should give up on all indication of their heritage, but they AT LEAST need to try and put themselves in the shoes of a non-Italian speaking wine drinker, who’s looking to order a bottle from a country outside of Italy. So many great wines suffer the same fate of not being ordered, simply because they’re unpronounceable. It’s a big shame.
- The Saladini Pilastri winery takes its name from Count Saladini Pilastri, a “nobleman” (which from all my history classes in England tells me that his family probably killed a bunch of people and took all their money…I’m guessing) from the year 1000.
- When you’re thinking Rosso Piceno (which I’m sure this is the first time you’ve even seen that name), think Chianti. The two wines are very similar, since Rosso Piceno [Row-soe Pee-CHAY-noe] usually contains a majority of Sangiovese (the main grape used in Chianti) and the regions aren’t that far apart.
- If you ever see “Superiore” on a bottle of Italian vino it does actually have a definition…unlike all the garbage which is normally thrown onto the front label of New World wines (i.e. Reserve, Old Vines, Private Reserve etc.) The only problem is that each Italian region has its own definition on the term. In the case of Rosso Piceno, the term “Superiore” means that Montepulciano must make up between 35% and 70% of the blend, and Sangiovese between 30% and 50%. The region where the wines can be produced are also limited to 13 “municipalities.”
- Directly to the East of Tuscany, on the side of the Adriatic sea, lies the Marches region.
- Even though Marches is located so close to Tuscany, the region is surprisingly behind the times when it comes to “quality” wine production. There are very few producers in Marches who have managed to export their product and see commercial success outside of Italy.
- Cesare Mondavi (you might recognize that last name…he was Robert Mondavi’s dad) emigrated from the Marches region in the early 20th century.
- I don’t know if you’re into legends like I am…..but legend has it that military commander Hannibal (247-183 BC) used the wines of Piceno as a rubdown for his army’s horses. The legends don’t state whether Hannibal gave the same treatment to his army of war elephants! [Disclaimer: I don’t condone the rubbing down of any animals or pets with red wine. It seems like such a waste!]
- Out of all the grapes planted in the Marches region, Montepulciano is the one that seems to perform the best.
Chianti-esque on the nose and in a blind-tasting that’s probably what I would have guessed it was.
Lots of red cherry, plum, toasted oak and dried herbs. Medium in body (which is no surprise, since Sangiovese and Montepulciano nearly always make medium-bodied wines), with vanilla, anise and some barnyardy aromas. One I’d buy again, and particularly important if you’re to venture out of your comfort zone. But hey, if you don’t like it, you can always rub down your horse with it! [If you skipped through this review straight to the tasting note, that last comment is going to absolutely make no sense at all…]
Think “rustic Italian”….and I’ll leave it at that.