Want to add a rich, ruby-red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo to your wine collection?
This intense Italian wine with floral and spice notes can be the perfect wine for any occasion. It is also one of the most exported Italian wines to the US.
But how do you choose the right Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine? How much does it cost?
And what’s the best way to buy it?
We’re going to answer all your questions in this detailed article including where do Montepulciano grapes grow, the different wine styles in the region and the best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines to buy.
We’ll also show you the easiest way to buy, store and sell your Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to go to a specific section)
What is Montepulciano and where does it grow?
Wine styles (flavors, food pairings)
The difference between Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Nobile di Montepulciano
Viticultural Sub-zones Producing Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Wines
Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Riserva 2016
Cantina Zaccagnini 2017
Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2014
Emidio Pepe Montepulciano 2010
Pasetti Harimann 2009
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo DOC
All you need to know about the Montepulciano Grape Variety
Let’s start from the beginning and see exactly what Montepulciano is and where it grows, how it tastes, and why there is so much confusion around the Montepulciano name.
What is “Montepulciano” and where does it grow?
Montepulciano is a type of grape that grows in East-Central Italy and is the second most planted red grape after Sangiovese.
It is predominantly grown in the Abruzzo region, where it has been around since the 18th century. This region lies between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic sea coast.
Most of western Abruzzo is too rocky for effective viticulture. The Montepulciano grows in the Apennine foothills, where the climate is warm with plenty of sunlight - perfect conditions for the vines to produce ripe and plump grapes.
There are nine official appellations where Montepulciano grapes grow:
- Biferno DOC in Molise
- Esino DOC in Marche
- Rosso Conero DOC in Marche
- Conero DOCG in Marche
- Offida DOCG in Marche
- Controguerra DOC in Abruzzo
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC in Abruzzo
- Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG in Abruzzo
- San Severo DOC in Puglia
What is DOC and DOCG?
DOC stands for Denomination of Controlled Origin. It requires the wines to be made according to certain standards and within a specified region. The standards usually include instructions on what grape varietals can be used, minimum aging, and minimum alcohol content.
DOCG stands for Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin which is perceived as superior to a DOC and the highest in Italy. To get a DOCG certification, the wine has to go through stringent quality control by a government-licensed panel of judges. Once approved, the wine is “guaranteed” with a governmental seal on the cork or the cap.
Wine styles and food pairings
A typical Montepulciano wine has powerful fruit and sweet spice flavors. They vary from lighter notes of sour cherry, boysenberry, and plum to more powerful oregano, herbs and tobacco-like flavors.
The wine is dry, medium-bodied with high acidity and tannin levels, which makes it a great compliment to more savory foods like beef briskets, roasted meats, baked vegetables, and pasta bolognese.
That’s because the higher acidity and tannin levels help to enhance some flavors. The acidity helps to cut through the rich flavors of fatty foods allowing you to enjoy every bite like it’s your first.
So far, so good!
But what are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines, and which are the best ones out there? What other wines are made with the same grape?
Let’s dive into the details.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Wines
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines are those that are produced in the five sub-zones of the Abruzzo region.
Viticultural Sub-zones Producing Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Wines
Each of the winemaking sub-zones produces wines of a particular quality. You’ll find their names as part of the appellation title on the bottle labels.
- Alto Tirino: The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines that come from this small countryside area are full-flavored ruby red with robust berry flavor.
- Casauria (Terre di Casauria): This quality wine production area makes ruby red wines with harmonious ripe fruit flavors
- Teate: This sub-zone includes the Chieti province, which is the 5th largest wine-producing province in Italy. The Montepulciano wines produced here have red fruit and spice flavor notes and red color with purple hues.
- Terre dei Peligni: This sub-zone is in the foothills of the Apennines. The red wines made with this region’s Montepulciano variety have a delicate berry and herbal aroma.
- Terre dei Vestini: This area includes the lands on the Adriatic coast and the inland hills of the Pescara province. The winemakers from this province produce one of Italy’s most unique wines with a velvety taste and slight vegetal aroma.
Now, don’t get confused between Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Nobile di Montepulciano - they’re often used interchangeably, but they’re two different wines!
So before we get into the details of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines, let’s see how the two are different.
The difference between Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the Montepulciano name since it’s both the name of a grape variety and the name of a town in the Tuscany region.
The Tuscany region is located in central Italy. It is famous for its dry red wines like Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti, Rosso di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, and sweet white wines like Vin Santo di Montepulciano.
But these wines have nothing in common with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
The main difference is that Montepulciano wines like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo are made of Montepulciano grapes, and they have nothing to do with the town Montepulciano (that lies to the east of Pienza, and southeast of Florence.)
Vino Nobile wine is a Tuscan wine produced in the town of Montepulciano, Tuscany. This wine is made with 70% Prugnolo Gentile Sangiovese Grosso grape and other grape varieties like Canaiolo and Mammolo.
Now that we cleared that up let’s look at some of the best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines you should get hold of.
The best Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines
There are three main types of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines produced in the Abruzzo region.
Let’s take a closer look!
1. Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC
The DOC certified Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines have to comply with certain rules.
- They have to be made with at least 85% of Montepulciano and up to 15% of Sangiovese for the remainder.
- The harvest yield should not exceed 14 tonnes per hectare.
- The wine should age for at least 5 months before releasing it.
- Bottles labeled Riserva should age for at least 2 years (including a minimum of 9 months in wood barrels) and have an alcohol content of no more than 12-12.5%.
And here are our top five Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC wines:
A. Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Riserva 2016
This world-class Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine is a blend of Montepulciano grapes from eight vineyard sites across the Abruzzo region.
After the wine ferments in stainless steel barrels, it’s moved to French barriques to age for 12-18 months before bottling it for more flavorful taste.
This gives the wine a unique silky texture combined with rich, harmonious fruity flavors and thicker earth and truffle notes. The balanced tannins and acidity give this delicate red wine a long and satisfying finish.
Current price of Masciarelli Marina Cvetic Riserva 2016 : $24
B. Cantina Zaccagnini 2017
Cantina Zaccagnini is a great value red wine produced in the Pescara province. Each bottle has a small piece of the grape vine tied around its neck that makes the brand memorable and easily recognized by many.
This red wine has a rich berry flavor with vanilla, chocolate and black pepper notes. The wine has a very subtle, smooth and fresh finish, unlike other red wines with high tannin levels. It goes well with different meaty dishes.
Current price of Cantina Zaccagnini 2017: $15
C. Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2014
Masciarelli’s most famous wine Villa Gemma is the only Italian wine to win the Tre Bicchieri award 14 times. The wine’s been around since 1984 and is one of the first wines produced in the Abruzzo region.
Villa Gemma is ruby red with purple reflections. It has an elegant and distinguishable blackberry aroma combined with a slight scent of smoke, chocolate, and licorice.
This red wine typically ages for about 18-24 months in barrels and 24-36 months in bottles before being released.
Current price of Masciarelli Villa Gemma 2014: $69
D. Emidio Pepe 2010
The 19th-century Emidio Pepe winery is considered one of the best in the Abruzzo region. It produces high-quality wines, including the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo (a white wine DOC).
The grapes are grown biodynamically and harvested by hand. After fermentation, the wine is bottled unfiltered. Only the wines that are aged 10 years and above are put in new bottles and released into the market.
This ruby red Montepulciano wine has a mixed flavor of black cherry, plums, and berries with an earthy aftertaste.
Emidio Pepe's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines are known to age very well after bottling. For example, the 2001 vintage can be enjoyed anytime until 2031.
Current price of Emidio Pepe 2010: $158
E. Pasetti Harimann 2009
This noble wine is made of hand-harvested Montepulciano grapes that ferment for about a month in stainless steel barrels. After the malolactic fermentation, the wine ages in oak barrels for another 24 months. Once in the bottle, the wine can age for up to 18 months before it’s released for sale.
The grapes give the red wine distinguishable blackberry, cherry, and plum flavors while the oak adds a slightly smoky and spicy aroma.
Pasetti Harimann vino is medium-bodied, has well-balanced tannin and acidity levels, which contribute to the persistent and lasting finish of each sip.
Current price of Pasetti Harimann 2009: $37
2. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG is the Teramo province appellation which was first certified as DOC in 1995, but qualified for a DOCG in 2003.
The DOCG regulations mandate that these wines have to be made with at least 90% of Montepulciano grapes and up to 10% Sangiovese wine grapes.
3. Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo DOC
Since 2010 there's been a separate DOC for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo rosato wines called Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC. It’s produced in all four Abruzzo provinces Teramo, Chieti, Pescara and L’Aquila.
The most common flavors for this wine are cherry, strawberry, orange peel and cinnamon.
This type of rose has a much lighter cherry-red color which is the result of putting the grape skins together with the fermenting juice for a shorter time. This wine also has lower tannin and acidity levels, which makes it perfect for a tasting in the summertime.
You may also be curious to know about other wines made using the Montepulciano grape.
Other types of Montepulciano wines by region
There are 3 other wine regions where Montepulciano grapes grow, and these are:
Marche is located to the north of Abruzzo and east of Tuscany. The most planted red grape here is Sangiovese, followed by Montepulciano.
And here are 3 most distinguished Montepulciano wines for the region:
Rosso Conero DOC
Rosso Conero is made of at least 85% Montepulciano grape and up to 15% Sangiovese or other types of red grapes.
This wine is full-bodied, aromatic, and light fruity notes. With time the stronger tannin aftertaste tones down and becomes softer.
Rosso Piceno DOC
Rosso Piceno DOC can have 30-70% of Montepulciano grape, 30-50% Sangiovese, and up to 15% other red grapes.
The Montepulciano grape varietal grows on lime-stone-rich soil, which gives the wine fresh mineral notes.
A dry and soft aftertaste accompanies the usual dark red color and berry flavors.
Offida Rosso DOCG
This type of Italian red wine contains at least 85% of Montepulciano grapes and up to 15% of red grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wine has the typical ruby red color and fruity flavor with high levels of tannin. It becomes softer and more fragrant after it ages for a minimum of two years.
This wine usually ages 12 months after harvest in wooden casks, and then for 6 more months in the bottles. After that, you can store the wine for up to 10 years.
This region is located south from Abruzzo and is the youngest and second smallest region in Italy.
Biferno DOC is made with at least 60-70% of Montepulciano grape, 15-20% Trebbiano, 15-20% Aglianico, and 5% of other red grape varietals.
It has a strong and flavourful aroma of cherry, vanilla, and spices with soft but a lasting aftertaste.
Puglia is an Italian region south of Molise and is famous for its beautiful beaches on the Adriatic sea, delicious food and great wines.
San Severo Rosso DOC
This wine is made with at least 70% Montepulciano grape and up to 30% Sangiovese grape.
San Severo Rosso can age up to four years and varies from light to medium-heavy body and has the typical dry but balanced and lasting taste.
As you can see, many regions grow Montepulciano grapes and you’ll come across plenty of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine varieties in the market.
What’s the best way to get your hands on the one that you like the most?
You’ll have to spend considerable time researching the market, comparing prices from various sources, checking critics reviews, and making sure you get exactly what you paid for.
That’s a lot of work, for sure, with no guarantee that you get an authentic bottle at the best prices!
A far easier solution would be to work with a wine investment company like Vinovest, who will source the right Montepulciano and other wines for you at the best prices. You can even have them stored for the long term, and sell them when the time is right.
Let’s see how this works!
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To wrap up
You could buy your Montepulciano d’Abruzzo online, or from some specialized wine store but you’ll never know if you’re getting the best bottles or the best prices.
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