Vino Nobile di Montepulciano may not be as well known in North America as Chianti, but here in Tuscany, we call it the “king of wines”.
The translation of the name would be “Noble Wine from Montepulciano”, a picturesque hill town not far from Siena. The wine is “noble” because it was a favorite among influential kings, popes and the local aristocracy. Even the third president of the United States Thomas Jefferson said it was “most superlatively good”.
This regal Tuscan wine is sometimes mixed up with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which is made from the Montepulciano grape in a different part of Italy. Confused? To clear it up, here’s everything you need to know about Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
How they make Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Nobile was the first wine in Italy to receive DOCG status in 1980 (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin). This means that the winemakers must follow strict rules to ensure high quality.
The Nobile wine can only be produced from the sloping vineyards surrounding the medieval town of Montepulciano, where there is a warm Mediterranean climate. At least 70 per cent of the blend must come from a variety of Sangiovese grapes known as Prugnolo. Some producers make their top Nobile wine from 100 per cent Sangiovese. The wine must age for a minimum of two years, one of which must take place in an oak barrel. It must be aged for three years in total to be labeled a Riserva. This is what it takes to produce the noblest wine of them all.
Why you should try Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
When it’s young, Nobile is refreshing and easy to drink, with vibrant flavors of cherry, plum, strawberry and dark ripe berries with a touch of earthiness and spice. It’s an elegant and versatile wine with medium body, gentle tannins and high acidity. Given its solid structure, Nobile is capable of aging nicely for up to 20 years. Over time, some flavors of tobacco, leather and candied fruit will evolve.
Nobile is rich and delicious on its own, but it also pairs well with a variety of food. A classic food pairing in Tuscany with Nobile is wild boar ragu. But it also goes well with any Italian dishes, grilled steaks, stews or even spicy Asian dishes.
Our recommendations for some of the best Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are:
- Nobile di Montepulciano Docg, Le Berne This excellent ruby red wine has a delicate fragrance and violet aroma, with a dry and slightly tannic flavor.
- Nobile di Montepulciano Docg, Croce di Febo, 2014. This organic wine has dynamic flavors of red fruits and flowers with soft tannins and a savory finish.
Of course, for the complete noble experience, you should come to Tuscany to visit the vineyards and taste the wine on our one-day Nobile Wine Tour from Florence.