By Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis
With so many clonal names like Brunello, Sangioveto and Prugnolo Gentile, in Italy, and around the world, Sangiovese is still Sangiovese. The grape is the grape. So wouldn’t it make sense that across to the Adriatic coast in Abruzzo, Montepulciano the grape would be the grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano back in Tuscany? But alas, the grape in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is none other than Sangiovese.
How is this possible? Chalk it up to competing wines, one the “noble wine” of a town far less famous than Chianti or Montalcino in Tuscany, and then the adaptation of the use of the noble wine’s place name as the grape name in the even lesser known and more remote Abruzzo region.
Both grapes are similar, producing mid-weight, fresh lemony wines with notes of cherry, licorice, leather, and dried herbs, though the best Montepulciano grape wines also show a distinct note of dark chocolate or carob.
Here is a tasting exercise to showcase Montepulciano the region vs. Montepulciano the grape.
Serve each wine on its own, then with truffle-accented filet mignon or rib eye or mushroom risotto.