The Fortezza di Montepulciano opened its doors in February 2011, after a long restoration, to host the new release tastings of the new vintage releases – 2008 for Nobile and 2007 for Riserva.
This small appellation of just 1,300 hectares in the east of Tuscany, 110km south of Florence, and 180km north of Rome, has been a DOCG since 1980.
DOCG production comprises a minimum 70% sangiovese, known as prugnolo gentile in this region, plus 30% of other varieties permitted in Tuscany. In this part of Tuscany that mainly means the likes of canaiolo, colorino and mammolo on the traditional side, plus merlot and cabernet sauvignon on the international side.
Merlot seems to suit the slightly softer, gentler, more perfumed expression of sangiovese/ prugnolo gentile grown on sands and sandy clay soils with pebbles. Altitude also plays its part: vineyards are between 250m and 600m above sea level.
DOCG wines must be aged for minimum of two years (three for Riserva).
In addition to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, another 350 ha are certified for Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. The Rosso di Montepulciano DOC has the same blending stipulations, but the yield can be 25% higher.
Scale is generally small. The total production of these wines is about 670,000 cases (12s) in the entire DOCG, plus 230,000 cases of Rosso di Montepulciano, made by about 250 producers.
Whilst new oak barriques are making their presence felt, sangiovese generally needs big barrels, often 20 to 50 hl just to soften out the edges, make it easier to drink. Casale Daviddi’s Nobile has 28 months in 25hl oak, for example. And 60% of the Le Bèrne Nobile is made in 20-30hl casks, with 40% going to older barriques. So whilst some new oak is being used in the appellation, there seems to be a sensitivity as to the amount of new oak that sangiovese can absorb without a deleterious effect on the wine and its freshness.
Favourites from the new releases – all tasted blind, in situ, February 2011
Fattoria della Talosa, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
Cask sample. 90% sangiovese; 10% merlot
Elegant attack, rich black fruit, brambly, all spice,, with a modern and fleshy note; silky tannins, full bodied, lush and sweet fruit, expansive enveloping fruit, all in the black berry spectrum; less of the typical teacake and savoury notes. Supple and tasty. Good.
Az. Agr. Icario, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
80% sangiovese, 10% merlot, 5% canaiolo, 5% colorino
Teacake and tealeaf, fine grainy oak yet to polymerise, savoury, black berries, and red cherry fruit, fresh and structured, chalky refreshing tannins, nicely balanced. Long and vg.
Poderi Boscarelli, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
90% sangiovese, 5% merlot and canaiolo, 5% colorino
Typical savoury tang on the nose, gentle palate attack, with baked cherries and spice, tea cake and dried citrus fruits. Nice texture and good finish.
Az. Agr. La Bandita e Lunadoro, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
Warm and gently spicy, soft baked cherries and allspice, lush blanketing palate, seductive tannin profile, supple and sweet. Warm fruit of decent finish. Good.
Avignonesi, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
85% sangiovese, 10% canaiolo, 5% mammolo
Medium deep, teacake and dried cherries nose, savoury/sweet combo of red and black berries, smooth palate texture, nice tannin fineness and silkiness, sweet, fully body, plenty of supple exotic tannins. Length not massive. Good.
Tenuta La Braccesca, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
90% sangiovese, 10% merlot
Medium deep, plenty of fresh vanilla. Chalky tannin attack, then smooth on the palate, sweet red berry fruits, palate also with velvety feel. Supple and mouth-filling texture. Long and good.
Az. Agr. Canneto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
90% sangiovese, 5% merlot, 5% cabernet sauvignon
Cask sample. Medium pale. Dried and spiced cherry, fresh and lifted, more classic, medium body, perky structure with elegant and rich black tea and dried cherry fruit. Nice definition, balance and length. Eminently drinkable. vg.
Az. Agr. Poliziano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
85% sangiovese, 15% colorino, canaiolo, merlot
Medium deep, lifted bitter red cherries on the nose, smooth, aromatic tarry attack, liquorice stick. Supple, integrated tannins, blanketing, rich balance. Vg.
Bindella, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
85% sangiovese, 15% colorino, canaiolo, mammolo
Smoky-spiced cherries, warm fruit with fresh acid core, sweet fruit mid palate, medium weight, fine grained, youthfully tight tannins, very elegantly balanced, delicious. Long.
Montemercurio, ‘Messaggero’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
Medium deep, mulled blackberries, round and rich palate, sweet black berried fruits, stewed and still with fresh core. Spiced black tea comes through mid palate. Rich and enveloping sweet fruits with ripe, lush tannins in a full body. Good.
Az. Agr. Croce di Febo, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
85% sangiovese, 15% others
Medium deep, wood smoke nose with chocolate cherry, spiced palate, not quite all the mulling spices, dry baked cherries, and fresh, ripe tannin frame, grip of youth, with fine grained velvet. Big, full bodied and muscular with proportioned frame. Good.
Az. Agr. Casale di Daviddi Aldimaro, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
85% sangiovese, 10% canaiolo, 5% mammolo
Medium deep, sweet and brambly, savoury tea leaf, lifted blossom notes comes through on the palate. Lush, sweet dark berried fruits, bits of chocolate and liquorice stick. Plenty of tannin, becoming supple on the palate; rich and lush, long and linear. Vg.
Dei, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
90% sangiovese, 10% canaiolo
Medium deep, fresh, perfume, cherry blossom nose, lightness of attack with full intensity, fresh core, bright red fruits, supple, with five spiciness, elegant and persistent mid palate. This is rather nice in an understated way, with layered purity. Long and good.
Podere Le Bèrne, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
97% sangiovese, 3% colorino
Medium deep, brambly nose, firmly structured. Muscular in upright, well toned sort of way. Tight with chalky freshness, and some nice layering. Good.
Tenimenti Angelini, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
90% sangiovese, 5% canaiolo, 5% cabernet sauvignon
Medium deep. Spicy cherries with sweet/dry fruit, supple tannins, rounded with black fruit, medium bodied with five spice aromas mid palate. Balanced with good intensity. Good
Vecchia Cantina, ‘Cantina del Redi’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008 selezione
Medium deep. Fresh, perky, bright red cherries, elegant, lifted with cherry blossom perfume. Fresh, lots primary fruit of rich intensity, precise and perfumed. Good.
Montemercurio, ‘Messaggero’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008 selezione
Medium deep. Spicy baked red fruits. Medium body with supple, savoury black tea leaf and hint of fresh leather. Youthfully tight tannins, well balanced. Good.
Az. Agr. Casale di Daviddi Aldimaro, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008 selezione
Deep colour. Complexing stalky blackcurrants on the nose. Fresh, upright attack, supple black berried fruits and very fine grained tannins, already mellow. Velvety texture, though still youthful and firm: iron fist, velvet glove. Very well balanced and proportioned. Vg.
La Ciarliana, ‘Vigna Scianello’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007 selezione
Cask sample. Very deep. Big, dark, brash black fruits, big and full bodied. Well proportioned in body builder style, and positive for that. Rich, fat, full bodied, sweet fruited. Good.
Tenimenti Angelini, ‘Simposio’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2007 selezione
Medium deep, sweet blackberries, full body, sweet lush fruit, rounded and fleshy, fat and still fresh. Hessian textured fruits. Vg
Dei, ‘Riserva Bossona’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Deep colour. Perky, fresh, bramble, liquorice stick and dried fig. Complex, seductive velvet glove texture with density and concentration. Vg
Az. Agr. La Bandita e Lunadoro, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Deep colour. Bitter chocolate and liquorice stick. Supple, expansive dark berried fruit. Warm baked earth combined with lush, sweet/dry fruits, Long. Vg
Podere Le Bèrne, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Medium deep. Rich crumbly strawberry and black cherry compote. Sandalwood texture, medium body, warm and earthy, hessian textured, warm earth, warming, concentrated. Vg.
Az. Agr. Icario, ‘Riserva Vitaroccia’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Opaque. Bramble, black fruits, lush sweet fruit with firm core running through it. Fleshy and rich, supple, plentiful tannins. Big and powerful in fleshy, black fruited mould. Vg.
Az. Agr. Canneto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Medium deep. Chalky fruit cake nose, firm morello cherry, lifted, medium body, more ‘classic’ and lovely for that. Still taut with tannin, integrating, with plentiful layered fruit. Vg.
Az. Agr. Nottola, ‘Riserva Il Fattore’, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Opaque. Lush, sweet bramble fruits, rounded and fleshy body, with sweet fruits and elegantly embalming tannins. Sweet, dark and fleshy. Good.
Contucci, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2007
Deep colour. Chalky and lifted baked cherries on the nose. Stringent hessian character and lifted liquorice stick and tea leaf. Structured and linear. Vg.