Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Vinous Evolution: 2010 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

By: Eric Guido

As we dig a little deeper into Tuscany and the many expressions of Sangiovese, we come to one of the most famous DOCGs in Tuscany: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. However, as famous as the name may be, and as far back as its origins may go (789), Vino Nobile has suffered over the last few decades. The reasons are various, but one that has always seemed to make the most sense is that, for a time, the producers lost focus and became idol, selling their wine on the value of its name alone. Those days are far behind us now, yet Vino Nobile still struggles to compete with consumer dollars against Chianti Classico and Brunello, and that is a shame. This became painfully apparent when shopping for these wines, which was not as easy as you would expect, living in one of the biggest cities in the world.

However difficult they were to find, in the end, they are worth the hunt. At a tasting some three years ago, I was fortunate enough to be treated to a tasting of vintage Vino Nobile. Most were from 2001, at the time with nine years of maturity under their belts. This tasting also included a large selection of Brunello and top shelf Chianti Classico Riservas. To say that Vino Nobile held its own would be an understatement--the wines were gorgeous, and I was suddenly a believer.


What separates Vino Nobile from other Tuscan reds starts with a unique clone of Sangiovese, named Prugnolo Gentile. Characteristically, it's often described as having a slightly lower level of acidity than your typical Sangio from Chianti and softer tannins than a Brunello. This along with the gentle, rolling slopes of Montepulciano (allowing more sunlight) and sandier, more alluvial soils, which benefits growth, helps the grapes to ripen easier (a constant issue with Sangiovese). This places Vino Nobile in a category all it's own, something of a happy middle ground.

The blending rules of Vino Nobile require a minimum of 70% Sangiovese, with up to 30% other varieties permitted. Many producers today have chosen to use traditional Tuscan grapes to fill out the blend, such as Mammolo (which lends a note of violet to the bouquet), Canaiolo Nero and Colorino. However, you will find a number of wines blended with other international varieties, such as Merlot. Two years of aging are required for Vino Nobile (three for Riservas), and producers have the choice to use large botti or small barrels. What is truly exciting to me is the current trend of adding more Sangiovese and aging less in new wood. The results are wines of beautiful varietal character and purity, which showcase the engaging structure and juicy acidity of these wines.

Over the last few years, I’ve delved more and more into Vino Nobile, but nowhere does the increase in quality and changes in winemaking styles show so dramatically than in the 2010 vintage. Typically, I enjoy Vino Nobile after a year or two following release, or four to five years post-vintage; yet in 2010, there’s an open-knit feel to the structure of these wines, which plays beautifully into the mix of lush fruit and vibrant acidity. They have a “drink me now” personality, but these wines will age. Don’t let their early appeal fool you; the structure is there, but what counts even more is the balance that these wines demonstrate. I will be adding a number of these to my cellar.

On to The Wines:

2010 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - The nose was floral, strong yet graceful, with a bouquet of ripe cherry, strawberry, potpourri and a sweet Tuscan dustiness. It entered the palate focused with wonderful verve, as fresh red fruits were ushered in by juicy acidity. Notes of cinnamon spice, cedar and hints of mountain herbs formed toward the close and lasted into the finish. As its flavors tapered off, fine tannin remained behind, tugging at the senses. This was enjoyable now, with energy to spare, and should improve or years to come. (92 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher! (avg. $29)

2010 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - The nose showed tart cherry and black currant, with mountain herbs, minerals, dark coca and the slightest hint oak. On the palate, it was angular at first, giving more with time in the glass as it resolved into a soft yet acid-driven and vibrant expression of Sangiovese. Flavors of tart berry, savory reduction sauce and stone laden minerals flowed into the finish, as fine tannins pulled at the senses, leaving hints of espresso and cherry. (91 pointsFind it on Wine-Searcher! (avg. $29)

2010 Azienda Agricola Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - The nose was fruity and intense with tart cherry, cranberry, along with hints of citrus peel, herbs and cedar. On the palate, it was soft yet with enough juicy acidity to keep it engaging. Ripe red fruits with hints of cinnamon and dried herbs danced around the palate, even if a tad short; it left tart cherry and hints of spice on the finish. This wine truly dazzled me for its honest red fruits and juicy personality. It’s also a good value. (90 pointsFind it on Wine-Searcher! (avg. $23)

2010 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - The nose was suave with masses of black cherry, dark chocolate, floral perfumes and a hint of rich strawberry jam. It entered like velvet on the palate, giving flavors of spiced cherry, cedar and mineral notes, all kept fresh by balanced acidity and a sheen of well-managed oak. The medium-long finish was dry with concentrated red fruit extracts, black licorice and a hint of dark coco. (89 pointsFind it on Wine-Searcher! (avg. $26)

2010 Fattoria del Cerro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - The nose showed candied cherry, autumnal spices, floral violet tones, undergrowth and hints of wet minerals. On the palate it was lean yet juicy with ripe red berry, cedar and espresso. The balance leaned toward acidity, making this a great pairing at the dinner table but a little hard to comprehend on its own. The finish turned dry, leaving red berry soaked tannin coating the senses. (87 pointsFind it on Wine-Searcher! (avg. $19)




Related articles at The V.I.P. Table:
New found love for Vino Nobile
“The Italian Wine Masters,” Part 3 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Producer Spotlight: Crociani

3 comments:

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  2. Excellent & informative article Eric.

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  3. Questa regione è incredibile! Buon lavoro e le descrizioni!

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