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Montepulciano: Wine Tasting Itinerary

The Illustrious Vino Nobile

”the perfect wine, of noble men”

Crossroads in Tuscany

The charming city of Montepulciano grew along a ridge, and with a dislevel of about 60 metres from the base of the hill to the main square, the climb up the main street is quite the workout. It is also an important part of a particular characteristic that distinguishes Montepulciano form many other historic “borgo” in Tuscany: underground cantinas. Together with its fame for excellent vineyards and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, this area merits a visit combining charm, character and flavor.

Main square in Montepulciano

How to Get Here

Coming from Florence, exit at ValdiChiana and in less than 20 km (following SP327 and in Pelose, turn to the left and pick up SP135) you are in Montepulciano.
If you are coming from Rome, then exit at Chiusi-Chianciano T. and in 21 km, following the SP146, you are at the doors of Montepulciano.
However, many come towards Montepulciano from Siena, after a visit in Pienza. In only 15 km, following the panoramic SP146 east you will find yourself climbing the hill for Montepulciano.
Suggested parking is P8 (Via dei Filosofi, 53045) or P7 (Via dell'Oriolo, 53045) are fairly close to the city center.

Set on the main roads heading north and south (Arezzo / Chiusi) and east/west (Val d’Orcia / Lago Trasimeno), Montepulciano always had the potential to command quite a bit of power from the earliest of times. However, its growth and wealth was heavily dependent on the expansion in the valley and the infested waters that left the area often reeling with malaria and other water-related diseases. Today a walk around Montepulciano is a walk through time, with spectacular villas, narrow roads, spectacular views and antique cantinas. For a special treat, visit the town during the Bravio, folkloristic barrel races through the city streets.

It wasn’t really until the Medici family, from the 1400’s till the 1500’s and then later in the 19th century that they area began to prosper. When peace was established between Florence and Siena, like many other towns, Montepulciano lost its importance as a military stronghold and started to decline. As soon as the area was reclaimed and the water was drained it took off once more.

Read here for a virtual tour of Montepulciano

Cantina of the

Montepulciano of all Wines, is the King

The same grape as in Chianti Classico, Orcia DOC and in Brunello di Montalcino, but just slightly different: Sangiovese, called “Prugnolo Gentile”. And with this, the wine of Montepulciano became one of the first Italian wines to obtain recognition with the denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) on the 12th July 1966. And not only: it was the first wine in Italy to receive the “denominazione di origine controllata e garantita” (DOCG) that decreed it one of the best wines Tuscany on July 1, 1980. In addition to this prestigious wine, Montepulciano also claims: Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, Bianco Vergine della Valdichiana DOC, Chianti Colli Senesi DOC and Vin Santo DOC.

The very name of the wine stems from years of recognition by poets and nobility such as ”the perfect wine, of noble men” and “of all wines, is the king”. The some say is that the name “vino nobile” derives from these very comments but history shows that Adamo Fanetti was the first to call is wine with this name. After the presentation of the family production, after it won prestigious awards in th 1930's (a gold medal at Grand Prix in Paris, Lubiana and Milano) the name noble wine seemed to be more than appropriate for this combination of grapes and aging process.

Vineyards of Icario in Montepulciano

Disciplinary for the Vino Nobile Wines

The “rules” behind this great wine (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) are precise, and one of the foundations of the great flavour in the wine, other elements to take into consideration when talking about wine is the terroir, barrels used for aging and the blends.

  • grape variety: Sangiovese, called “Prugnolo Gentile” at Montepulciano, minimum 70% may be joined up to 30% by other varieties authorized for the Tuscany Region
  • maximum permitted yield per hectare is 80 quintals with an effective yield in wine of 70%
  • the wine can only be sold after ageing for two years (three for the Riserva) and in any case after passing a series of chemical and organoleptic tests carried out by a ministerial board.
  • vinification and ageing must by law take place in the municipal area of Montepulciano

Particular to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is the aging process for at least two years starting on the 1st of January after the harvest. The producer can choose between: 24 months in wood 18 months minimum in wood and the rest f the time in another type of container 12 months minimum in wood plus 6 months (minimum) in bottle and the rest f the time in another type of container.

What to Expect When you Savor the Wine

The vino nobile of Montepulciano has a deep ruby red which with aging changes to a garnet color. The wine is full bodied, with an intense bouquet characterized as ethereal with hints of amarena, blackberry and forest fruits, plums, cherries, olives, floral scents of violet, herbaceous and earthy notes. It has a fresh crisp flavor in the mouth and the tannins are pronounced, but smooth after the aging process.

Color, bouquet and body of Vino Nobile Montepulciano

Where to Find a Wine Tasting

Montepulciano offers a truly unique experience in Tuscany when one talks about “wine tasting.” Instead of taking the car and driving from one panoramic vineyard to another, you can simply wander the medieval streets of this borgo, where you can find several of the historic cantinas where the wines are aged. These wine cellars are built underneath the city and provide a suggestive setting for tasting the “bontà” of this area in Tuscany. Read our article on how to take or ship some of these great flavors home.

Here is a brief list of some of our favorites both in and outside of the city walls:

Cantine Fanetti

The father of Vino Nobile opens its cantina all year round. A visit to where it all began, where they still use traditional methods to create their wines. Three generations with award winning wines. Stop and see where it all began.

Official Website

Vineyards di Fanetti in Montepulciano

Villa S. Anna

An all women team producing spectacular wines just outside of Montepulciano. They are dedicated “to improving their wines, planting new vineyards at a high density of plants per hectare, replacing barrels and barriques at the appropriate time, and taking scrupulous care of the centuries-old underground cellars where all the wines are aged at natural temperatures.”

Official Website

Villa Sant Anna Vino Nobile vineyards in Montepulciano

Fattoria Pulcino

The Ercolani Farm is managed by the two brothers Marco and Carlo, young farmers for about twenty years. The farm extends 150 hectares, twelve of which are vineyards, two are olive groves and the rest is and suitable to planting, grazing and wood situated on height of 450 metres above sea level. Besides, the Farm “il Pulcino” produces liqueurs, extra virgin olive oil, pecorino cheese, cold cuts, honey, homemade jams and cakes.

Official Website

View from Montepulciano - Fattoria Pulcino

Salcheto

A distinct modern touch both in the image, the grounds and architecture, and in the production style. An organic and biodynamic winery, in the district of Vino Nobile, in the southeast of the province of Siena, in Tuscany. The name comes from the trees called Salice (willow trees), which are an important component in the flavor of these wines. These trees, are replanted also to create biomass energy that contributes to the autonomy of the wine cellar and their commitment to environmental sustainability.

Official Website

Icario

A relatively young vineyard which attempt to combine the rich traditions of the area with progress and the “novità” of today.

At first glance, the solid Icarius building evokes harmony between modernity and tradition. The vineyard fits naturally into the landscape, with stones, light, attention to every detail, the love for nature and grapes.

Official Website

Modern cantine Icario in Montepulciano

Montemercurio

They believe its not just enough to have a a good wine - it needs to be a wine that distinguishes itself from the others, therefore making it not only good but memorable. A visit to this cantina will be both good and memorable. In the early '60s Damo the grandfather planted the first vineyard, which has grown into a family affair which reflects the company’s desire to retain the natural goodness of the terroir of Montepulciano, “without masking the flavors and characteristic aromas.”

Official Website

Salcheto tasting room and enoteca near Montepulciano


Author: Donna Scharnagl

It has been over 24 years since I took my first steps in Italy and I still haven’t found a good reason to leave.  Between the food, the culture, the history, the art, the landscapes … did I mention the food? I have become a lifelong student. And I soon learned that Italians all have stories that long to be told; stories that paint a picture of how hard work produces character, how life is made of ups and downs and how good it feels to laugh.



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