There is always some confusion when it comes to Montepulciano wine. For this reason, it is important to understand the difference between Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The second is a red wine produced in Abruzzo with Montepulciano grapes, a black grape variety common in Abruzzo, Marche and Molise. Whereas the Nobile di Montepulciano wine is a Tuscan red wine made from Sangiovese grapes which is produced in the Montepulciano area, in the province of Siena. Together with its younger brother Rosso di Montepulciano - the same wine, with a shorter aging time -, Nobile is one of the most famous (and best) wines from Tuscany, appreciated all over the world for its unique characteristics.

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Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has a centuries-old history, which dates back at least as far as the Etruscan period. The Roman historian Livy was the first to mention wine production in the area, telling the story of the Etruscan vintner of Chiusi Arunte, who unleashed a clash between Rome and the Gauls over his wife’s betrayal. The oldest official mention of wine production in the Montepulciano area, however, dates back to 789, in a deed in which a cleric donates to the church of San Silvestro in Lanciniano, on the Amiata, a plot of land planted to vine located in the ‘castle of Policiano’, the ancient name of the town of Montepulciano. Montepulciano wine continued to be renowned for centuries, until the seventeenth-century doctor, naturalist and scholar Francesco Redi gave its reputation a huge boost. In his Bacco in Toscana (1685), an escapist text written in verse whose fame spread throughout Europe at the time, Redi considers the wines of Tuscany, and defines Montepulciano as the king of all wines. It was towards the end of the eighteenth century that this wine began to be called Nobile. It had in fact been one of the Tuscan red wines most drunk and loved by popes, princes and emperors, such as Pope Pius II Piccolomini, Emperor Charles V and the Medici, including Caterina, Queen of France, who exported its fame beyond the Alps. Together with Brunello di Montalcino, it was the first Italian wine to be awarded DOCG status, in July 1980. Today, Nobile di Montepulciano is one of the excellences of the Siena area, appreciated in Italy and around the world, so much so that about 78% of annual production is reserved for export. 


Various characteristics of Nobile di Montepulciano make it unique, starting with the blend. According to the production protocol, Nobile di Montepulciano must contain at least 70% Sangiovese Grosso, locally known as Prugnolo Gentile due to the distinctive plum flavour it gives the wine. The remaining 30% can be made up using varieties suitable for growing in Tuscany, generally Canaiolo (maximum 20%) and Mammolo, which gives violet floral aromas. Nobile undergoes barrel maturation for 26 months, extended to 38 for the Riserva version. The result is a full-bodied, firmly-structured wine, harmonious, stylish and elegant, with the tannins of Sangiovese softened by barrel ageing. Like many Tuscan wines, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made to be accompanied by food, and especially traditional Tuscan dishes. Being an intense, full-bodied wine, it is perfect with meat-based dishes, such as roasts, boiled meats, grilled meat, but also braised game. Nobile, and in particular Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, is the ideal accompaniment for one of the symbolic dishes of Val di Chiana, namely pici with wild boar ragù or, for vegetarians, with aglione della Val di Chiana DOP. Nobile di Montepulciano, whose outstanding producers are Poliziano and Salcheto, is a perfect red wine for an important occasion, to be selected on the basis of the vintage and according to the event. 


We can speak of Rosso di Montepulciano as Nobile’s younger brother, without offending anyone. The only difference, in fact, is age: the composition of the blend (minimum 70% Sangiovese, alongside varieties suitable for growing in Tuscany) is the same, but the yields per hectare are higher, and barrel ageing lasts six months, 20 months less than its older brother, the Nobile. Rosso di Montepulciano is a ready-to-drink DOC wine, fresher and fruitier than the Nobile, with notes of black cherry and strawberry, but remains weighty, tannic, well-structured and somewhat velvety. It can be paired with the same dishes as Nobile di Montepulciano, but being fresher, it is also suitable for lighter dishes, such as vegetable and legume soups and minestrone. Rosso di Montepulciano is an excellent choice for an aperitif with friends, especially when paired with fresh or semi-mature cheeses, first and foremost pecorino from Pienza


As we have seen, it is important not to get confused when talking about Montepulciano: Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano are very different wines from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This is a DOC wine from the Abruzzo region produced using at least 85% Montepulciano grapes, complemented by black grape varieties suitable for growing in the region. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a dry, tannic, medium-bodied wine with excellent structure. Its fruity, spicy nose offers characteristic aromas of liquorice, and in the glass it shows an intense ruby red hue, tending towards garnet. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is an excellent red table wine, to be enjoyed every day with a variety of foods. In particular, it goes perfectly with main courses of white and red meat, especially if grilled or roasted. It is ideal with mature cheeses, and when young, also with pork, including cured meats, such as Abruzzo’s traditional Ventricina