This episode of “Wine 101” options Maze Row Wine Service provider’s esteemed accomplice Allegrini, which is positioned in northern Italy, within the Veneto area. The Allegrini household dates again to 6 generations of creating wine within the Valpolicella area, which implies “land of many cellars.” Valpolicella can be the identify of one among Allegrini’s most well-known purple wines, created from the historic grape known as Corvina that imparts signature notes of almond. To attempt Allegrini, comply with the hyperlink within the episode description to TheBarrelRoom.com.
On this episode of “Wine 101,” VinePair’s tastings director Keith Beavers explores each the grape and the city Montepulciano and the way these two sharing the identical identify can create confusion for wine drinkers. Tune in to study extra.
Or Examine Out the Dialog Right here
Keith Beavers: My identify is Keith Beavers, and look, there’s a giant divide between chocolate and white chocolate lovers, proper? Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup white chocolate versus Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup darkish and milk chocolate. I imply the white chocolate, when it hits, it simply hits me. What am I? Oh, I’m doing an episode.
What’s happening, wine lovers? From VinePair’s podcasting community, that is “Wine 101.” My identify is Keith Beavers. I’m the tastings director of VinePair. And the way are you this week? Immediately?
Oh, sure, we keep in Tuscany. We’re nonetheless in Italy. We now have extra to speak about. There’s a giant confusion on this one phrase: Montepulciano. It’s a grape, it’s a city. It’s two totally different areas. How will we..? Let’s clear some stuff up.
Okay, wine lovers. I bear in mind the day it occurred to me and I’ll always remember it as a result of after it occurred as soon as, it continued to occur, and I used to be like, “Okay, we obtained to clear some issues up right here.”
It was a very long time in the past. I had an Italian wine bar and restaurant. I used to be behind the bar one evening. This couple is available in. They’d simply come again from Italy. They had been awash within the Italian tradition. They needed to come back straight to an Italian place after being on the “boot.” And it was so fantastic. Let’s proceed this awesomeness. You understand how it’s. They check out the wine listing and so they go, “Oh, look, Montepulciano. We’ll have two glasses of Montepulciano, please.” All proper. So I’m pouring them every a glass of Montepulciano. And as I’m pouring the glass, they’re speaking about their journey and the way a lot they liked it. And the way they had been romping across the Chianti Hills. And so they ended up in a spot known as Siena. After which from Siena, they went to this well-known city known as Montepulciano.
And the wine was simply fantastic and the views and the folks and the tradition and the meals — it was so nice. And so they’re so comfortable to be sitting right here in New York, having a glass of… wait? I used to be pouring them a glass of Montepulciano. They had been speaking a few city known as Montepulciano pondering they had been going to have a wine from… It was a little bit bit complicated. So, I needed to clarify to them that what they’re consuming isn’t from the city that they visited. That is one thing utterly totally different. And the look of confusion on their faces was identical to, “Wait, what?” However they did benefit from the wine that was of their glass. Now, I do know you proper now are going, “Okay, Keith, it is a enjoyable story however I’m so confused.” And that’s type of the purpose as a result of wine is so historical. And the phrases that affiliate with the wines are additionally historical and the world occurs and phrases get combined up.
And the phrase Montepulciano on the American marketplace for wine is type of complicated, as a result of not solely is it a grape, but it surely’s additionally a city, and people two issues will not be associated in any respect. So let me clear the Montepulciano situation up right here. In central Italy on the jap coast is a area known as Abruzzo, at one level it was known as Abruzzi. So that you would possibly see that round, and it’s a little bit bit complicated as a result of sooner or later this area was break up up right into a bunch of smaller little areas due to some royal man who needed to divide his realm. However sooner or later, the federal government break up Abruzzo with one other area known as Molise, which was a part of Abruzzo. So now it’s Abruzzo after which Molise is a separate area. That’s complicated however I simply wanted to get it on the market. Since you’re going to see that.
Anyway, Abruzzo could be very, type of mountainous. I imply, extraordinarily — a variety of locations in Italy are historical — however Abruzzo is historical, like loopy historical as a result of it’s on the Adriatic. So it’s had a variety of people coming and going for lengthy intervals of time. Going again to the Neolithic period, there’s truly fossils from the Neolithic period there. Abruzzo has primarily two varieties. There’s a white wine grape and a purple wine grape. The white wine grape is known as Trebbiano and that’s their white wine grape. It’s their white wine. Their purple wine grape is known as Montepulciano. And if you drink a wine, a purple wine from Abruzzo, you’re consuming a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The grape Montepulciano, from the area of Abruzzo, and sooner or later we’ll do an episode on Abruzzo and undergo all of the small little areas in there as a result of they’ve completed a variety of work to convey themselves into the way forward for wine.
There are some DOCG issues happening in there — Montepulciano taking up totally different personalities and so is Trebbiano. It’s very cool. That is Montepulciano. And if you go to a wine bar in america, particularly an Italian wine bar or Italian restaurant, it’s typically the case that essentially the most reasonably priced wine by the glass and essentially the most reasonably priced wine by the bottle is a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. There’s a giant manufacturing happening in Abruzzo. And you’re going to see a variety of it on the American market. There are a variety of winemakers in Abruzzo which can be making extra centered, extra structured, darkish, stunning Montepulciano. However what you’re going to see lots on the American market is sweet, on a regular basis, reasonably priced Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. In case you had been to stroll from Abruzzo, northwest into Chianti, in direction of the province of Siena, it could take you about two and a half days give or take.
And it’s within the province of Siena that there’s a city known as Montepulciano. It’s spelled precisely just like the grape in Abruzzo. And the city of Montepulciano could be very well-known within the Chianti, Siena space. It has a really storied previous. It has a variety of documentation, like a variety of well-documented wine areas in Italy. You have got a pope’s cellar grasp saying how nice the wine is. It begins exhibiting up in data across the late 18th century and the city itself is on a hill after which surrounded by hills. And on these slopes of these hills grows Sangiovese. And right here they name their Sangiovese “Prugnolo Gentile.” Simply west of the township of Montepulciano and its surrounding vineyards is a valley. After which one other grouping of hills across the township of Valiano. And on these slopes, they develop Sangiovese. That is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wine area of Italy.
And also you’ll bear in mind from the earlier episode of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, identical to Brunello or Barolo or Barbaresco, claimed to be the primary DOCG on the Italian market. Unsure who was the primary, however these 4 in a single yr had been awarded DOCG. So, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a extremely essential area. And what’s fascinating is that it’s smack dab in the course of two different types in that you’ve got the Chianti area surrounding it, after which you’ve Brunello di Montalcino very near it. And never solely is it type of between two types, the area itself, due to its trendy historical past and guidelines and altering of guidelines, additionally has two totally different types inside its personal area. This area and its guidelines have gone by way of a major quantity of modifications all through the years too. I feel, to me, it sounds lots prefer it was making an attempt to modernize itself whereas nonetheless making an attempt to carry onto its conventional values in wine.
And the result’s two totally different types inside the area like I stated. Historically, wines from Vino Nobile di Montepulciano had been based mostly on Sangiovese, identical to a variety of wines on this space, however had been additionally blended with native grapes like Canaiolo, Mamolo, and even some Trebbiano, the white wine that I discussed from Abruzzo. And identical to in Chianti, over time Sangiovese grew to become the predominant selection within the mix. And when the foundations had been being modified all through this contemporary historical past of this area, Sangiovese took a outstanding position. Then sooner or later in the course of the historical past of this DOCG, they modified the foundations once more to permit worldwide varieties, or I ought to simply say French Bordeaux varieties — Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Amarone selection, Syrah. When worldwide varieties had been formally allowed in these blends, it created a variety of controversy with traditionalists saying, “What are you doing? You’re messing with the terroir-driven wines this place has all the time been recognized for.”
Properly, what it did was it truly divided the producers of the area. A few of them benefit from the older model. A few of them benefit from the newer model. So now now we have these two personalities in a single area based mostly solely on the winemaking model. In case you had been to do the extra conventional model with the native varieties, due to Canaiolo and Mamolo, these wines want a little bit bit extra extended getting old. While you mix it with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and even Syrah, and also you expose it to new French oak, it may be prepared sooner. And a variety of winemakers sooner or later opted for that. And although the extra trendy strategy gained dominance for fairly a while, that’s at present beginning to wane a little bit bit with a variety of winemakers going again in direction of the extra conventional technique.
And with that age-worthiness, I’m probably not certain if the foundations are going to vary once more, however one factor they do have in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, identical to in Brunello di Montalcino, they’ve one other DOC known as Rosso di Montepulciano, which is why that may be launched earlier. And what’s rising is the extra common model tends to be at present… It’s truly type of cool, it’s proper between the tanginess and the cherry notes of a Chianti within the deep darkish, absolutely structured-ness of Brunello di Montalcino. It’s type of proper within the center. It’s deep in shade. It’s darkish, it’s comfortable. It does have good acidity and so they have age-worthiness to them as nicely, but it surely’s not going to be as age-worthy as Brunello di Montalcino, extra alongside the traces of a Chianti, perhaps a pair years give or take, however the DOCGs do see two years earlier than launch.
So there’s lots happening right here. You have got a really well-known area that’s surrounded by different well-known areas that has its personal persona, however truly has two personalities. However even then it has a persona that’s much like the 2 neighboring areas round it. It’s simply an expression of Sangiovese. And like I stated, within the Tuscany episode, that’s what Tuscany mainly is. A number of these areas are simply totally different expressions of Sangiovese. And the explanation why I stated, “In case you walked,” as a result of why would I say that? I used to be enthusiastic about how vines journey. And I used to be enthusiastic about the proximity of the Chianti area and Abruzzo and the way Abruzzo is a part of central Italy. And that north of Abruzzo is an incredible place known as Le Marche, one other nice episode we must always do. In Le Marche, they mix Sangiovese with Montepulciano in two of their wine areas.
However in Abruzzo, no. I imply, I’m certain there’s Sangiovese there, but it surely’s not a factor. Montepulciano guidelines the day. And in any case this time, they aren’t taken with Sangiovese, although it surrounds them. However I used to be trying on the path from the city of Montepulciano, like strolling, to Abruzzo, and also you cross by way of some cities. You get Montepulciano, in fact, the city. You begin from there. You cross by way of Perugia in Umbria, Montefalco in Umbria, Todi, Terni. These are vital cities. And in Perugia in Montefalco, one can find Sangiovese. Sangiovese reveals up.
The factor is if you’re trying on the origins of Montepulciano, there’s not lots happening there. It’s the purple grape of the realm of Abruzzo, it’s been there ceaselessly and that’s their grape. However due to that type of line of commerce and journey between the 2 cities, in the event you had been to simply do this stroll, it does make sense that, as a result of it’s central Italy and Sangiovese is so outstanding, that for a very long time, there have been folks truly calling Montepulciano “Sangiovese,” so there’s a variety of confusion there as nicely.
And I’m probably not certain about how the grape Montepulciano grew to become that Montepulciano, but it surely does appear there was a little bit little bit of confusion someplace within the Center Ages between the city and the grape. However that is the way it works out now: In case you’re consuming a purple wine from Abruzzo, it’s going to be from the grape Montepulciano, and it’s going to be known as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. In case you’re consuming a wine from the DOCG Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, you’re going to be consuming a wine based mostly off the Sangiovese grape. The identify of the wine is called after the city. That’s the confusion. And lots of people, after they go to Italy to go to, lots of people go to Tuscany. It is without doubt one of the most traveled Italian areas for vacationers in existence in Italy.
So when folks come again, they typically have gone to the city — the attractive city — of Montepulciano. And at first of this episode, after I was speaking about that couple, this occurred lots at my Italian restaurant. As a result of there was confusion there. However the factor is, there’s one thing stunning in each. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a extremely superior wine to discover as a result of it has these two totally different types inside it. They’re very age-worthy and so they’re stunning, elegant, majestic, Italian purple wines. Then you’ve the grape Montepulciano in Abruzzo — superb wine. There are folks making Abruzzo Montepulciano that’s costly, small-production, well-structured stunning stuff, however there are a variety of winemakers on the market making superb, straightforward consuming, on a regular basis meals to share with buddies, communal Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. So I hope I cleared issues up for you guys.
So if you’re on the market, you recognize what you’re taking a look at, you recognize what you’re having fun with. You’re not going to be confused, as a result of wine might be complicated. It’s historical and we’re deciphering it now. I’ll see you subsequent week.
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And now, for some completely superior credit. “Wine 101” was produced, recorded, and edited by yours actually, Keith Beavers, on the VinePair headquarters in New York Metropolis. I need to give a giant ol’ shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for creating VinePair. Huge shout-out to Danielle Grinberg, the artwork director of VinePair, for creating essentially the most superior brand for this podcast. Additionally, Darbi Cicci for the theme track. Take heed to this. And I need to thank all the VinePair employees for serving to me study one thing new daily. See you subsequent week.
Ed. be aware: This episode has been edited for size and readability.