Located 40 miles southeast of Siena and 68 miles southeast of Florence, the charming hilltop town of Montepulciano, capped by its ancient fortress, stands guard over one of Italy’s most storied winemaking and grape growing areas, home to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. Already inhabited in Etruscan times – as recent discoveries of building materials hailing from the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. demonstrate – the area has been celebrated for its wonderful red wines for centuries.
In his History of Rome, written two thousand years ago, Livy wrote that the Gauls were first attracted to the area for the wines being produced by the Etruscans in the hills around Montepulciano. The first specific document citing vineyards in the area hails from 789 A.D., and still another document from 1350 details exports of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. But the most notable reference to the area’s wines came in 1685, when Francesco Redi wrote his now famous ode to Tuscan wine, Bacco in Toscana, “Montepulciano is the King of all wines”. Clearly the distinct microclimate, mix of sand and clay soils and vineyard altitude – ranging from 820 to 1,970 feet above sea level – have always been the key to the success of the area’s lauded wines.
Today, Montepulciano’s stunning countryside of rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves has remained remarkably unchanged over the centuries. Visiting the area gives the impression of stepping into a Renaissance painting’s quintessential landscape. And the area continues to produce structured, age-worthy wines based on native grape Sangiovese, known locally as Prugnolo Gentile.
Under its strictly regulated DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) production code, Vino Nobile must be made with a minimum of 70% Sangiovese and undergo at least two years of ageing starting from the 1st of January after the harvest (currently the 2011 vintage is available) minimum one year of oak in the producers’ cellars before being released to the market. In outstanding years, some producers also make a Riserva version, which is three years of ageing starting from the 1st of January after the harvest (currently the 2010 vintage is available) minimum one year of oak and six months of bottlebefore release. Vino Nobile and Riserva are both delicious, fullbodied wines that develop even more complexity over time.
Made with the same grapes as Vino Nobile, Rosso di Montepulciano DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is released earlier. This is a savory, vibrant wine made to be enjoyed young to capture the juicy, sun-kissed fruit.
Last Updated: May 4, 2023