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What is Montepulciano

What is Montepulciano?

As Montepulciano is still quite an emerging variety here in Australia, we are often asked, “What kind of wine is Montepulciano?”

Montepulciano is a red wine grape variety native to Italy, particularly prominent in the central regions of Abruzzo and Marche. It is known for producing deeply coloured, full-bodied wines with rich fruit flavours and moderate tannins. The Montepulciano grape is also used to make flavoursome Rosé.

So, let’s cut through the confusion about Montepulciano – the dark, brooding Italian Red wine that’s trending here in Australia.

Shop Montepulciano

What is Montepulciano

What is Montepulciano?

Where does Montepulciano thrive?

Where does Montepulciano thrive?

What does Montepulciano pair well with?

What does Montepulcino pair with?

What is the profile of Montepulciano

What is the profile of Montepulciano?

How do you cellar Montepulciano

How long do you cellar Montepulciano

Facts about Montepulciano

Facts about Montepulciano


Where is Montepulciano from?

The most famous examples of Montepulciano (the actual wine) come from the Italian region of Abruzzo, but it’s planted throughout much of central and southern Italy, however not near the town of the same name.

Where is Montepulciano from?

Map of Italy, showing the Abruzzo region where Montepulciano originated.

Thankfully, as a grape grown in Australia, it’s much more straightforward and in true Aussie style, we’ve taken away the pronunciation problem and affectionately shortened its name to ‘Monte’.

Montepulciano is most famously made under the DOC of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. A producer called Aziendo Agricola Valentini produces Italy’s most renowned expression – it’s like the Penfolds Grange of Monte – having taken it from a quaffing red to a serious, thrilling wine.


Montepulciano wine in Australia

Montepulciano has really taken off in Australia over the past decade, perhaps due to its suitability to our climate and a drinking trend seeing the rise in popularity of Euro-style wines.

In its very short lifespan here in Australia, Monte has already won international acclaim. At the 2016 International Wine Competition in London, Gold medals were given to Montes outside of Italy for the first time, and they were won by two Australian wines – Bird in Hand and Mr Riggs. It was a significant achievement, proving what we already knew – the quality of our winemaking in Australia is exceptional. Australian producers continue to make stunning Monte expressions – see below for some of the most recent examples available through Wine Selectors now.


What are the best regions for Montepulciano

Monte has had success in our vast range of climates, possibly because it’s a relatively late ripening variety. Also, like Shiraz, it’s hardy, disease-resistant and can handle the heat and the cold. Look out for examples from Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Riverland.


Why is Montepulciano famous?

Apart from having a town with the same name, Montepulciano wines are often praised for their approachability and versatility, making them popular for both casual and special occasions. It’s a go-to wine for lovers of rich, satisfying reds and is very food-friendly, pairing superbly with richer, hearty foods.


What does Montepulciano taste like?

After one asks “Is Montepulciano a red wine?”, the following questions naturally turn to taste and flavours. Is Montepulciano a full-bodied wine? And, what other varieties is Montepulciano similar to?

Montepulciano wines tend to be rich and full-bodied, with flavours of dark fruits along with hints of herbs, spices, and a touch of earthiness. They typically have a firm structure with well-integrated tannins, a velvety texture and a long, satisfying finish.

Is Montepulciano similar to Shiraz?

Dark, rich, intense and brooding, Monte’s appeal lies in its beautifully generous fruit, including red plum, sour cherry and boysenberry, along with its moderate acidity, so if you love Australian Shiraz, you’ll probably love Monte too! And while Shiraz and Montepulciano share similarities in weight, structure and flavours, they also have distinct differences. Montepulciano tends to have more earthy and spicy characteristics, while Shiraz often displays peppery notes and more pronounced fruitiness.

Is Montepulciano similar to Cabernet Sauvignon?

Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon are two distinct grape varieties with their own unique characteristics, but they do share some similarities in terms of structure (both tend to be full-bodied with firm tannins) and ageing potential – they are both known to develop greater complexity over time. They do, however, have distinct flavour profiles that make them unique, as Cabernet typically has more pronounced herbal, cassis, and sometimes capsicum notes.

Is Montepulciano similar to Merlot?

While both red wine grape varieties, Merlot tends to be softer with flavours of red fruit, while Montepulciano wines are typically more robust, with darker fruit flavours and firmer tannins.

Is Montepulciano similar to Chianti?

Montepulciano and Chianti are both Italian red wines, but they differ in grape variety and regional characteristics. Montepulciano wines are bold and robust, characterised by dark fruit flavours, firm tannins, and a medium to full body. Chianti, on the other hand, is predominantly made from Sangiovese grapes, which give the wine bright cherry flavours, lively acidity, and a medium-bodied texture. While both wines may share some common characteristics due to their Italian heritage, Montepulciano tends to be richer and more powerful, while Chianti is lighter and often more elegant and refined.


What food pairs well with Montepulciano?

So, what does one eat with Montepulciano? The general fruit intensity and richness of Monte means that it’s a natural match to an array of rich and intensely flavoured dishes – avoid anything too light or delicate.

Natural pairings include ragu and other hearty, slow-cooked dishes, pasta, pizza and barbequed food. Non-meat eaters can enjoy Monte with roasted vegetables or anything mushroom or tomato-based. Perhaps surprisingly, it can also be paired with oily fish like tuna and salmon.

So, crack open a bottle of Monte and savour it with the deep, delicious flavours of warming comfort food or simple fare like a pepperoni pizza.

To get some inspiration for what pairs well with Montepulciano, check out these tasty dishes and recipes.

Words by
Adam Walls
Published on
15 Apr 2024


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