What is Montepulciano?
As Montepulciano is still quite an emerging variety here in Australia, we are often asked “what kind of wine is Montepulciano?”
Besides being tricky to pronounce, Montepulciano is one of the more complicated grapes. You see, there’s an Italian town called Montepulciano, which produces a wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. But this wine is made mostly from Sangiovese, and doesn’t actually include any of the Montepulciano grape!
So, let’s cut through the confusion about Montepulciano – the dark, brooding Italian Red wine that’s going great guns in Australia.
Where does Montepulciano thrive?
What does Montepulcino pair with?
What is the profile of Montepulciano?
How long do you cellar 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.
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 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.
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?
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!
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.