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.
On to The Wines:
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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