Great value, if you say it right – Wine Advisor

It’s hard to find a better wine value than a good Montepulciano, but you have to be really careful what you ask for. The name “Montepulciano,” you see, turns up on the label of a couple of very different Italian reds: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Just to make matters a little more fuzzy still, if you don’t watch your pronunciation (“Mon-teh-puhl-cha-no“) it’s easy to confuse either with Montalcino.

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Confused yet? Let’s review. * Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (“The Noble Wine of Montepulciano”) is named for the ancient Tuscan village amid the region’s vineyards surround. It’s a pricey cousin of Chianti, made from a similar blend of grapes (Sangiovese, Canaiolo and others). * The similar-sounding Montalcino is another ancient region in southern Tuscany, not far west of Montepulciano. Its top red wine is Brunello di Montalcino, an appellation that many wine enthusiasts – including me – rank among Italy’s very best.
It’s made with Sangiovese, too, a specific clone called Brunello. * And then there’s the other Montepulciano, the subject of today’s examination. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, as its name suggests, is made in Abruzzo, which is a long way from Tuscany, in vineyards near the Adriatic on the other side of Italy.
This Montepulciano is named for the grape from which it is made, sharing a name but having nothing else to do with the Tuscan village Montepulciano or its Sangiovese-based wine. Here’s the best part: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is almost always the best value of any of these wines, generally selling in the U.S. for $ 15 or less, and often well under $ 10. Although it’s made from a different grape than Chianti and is typically not quite as acidic a wine (an element that promotes food-friendliness), I place it in the same broad category as Chianti, at least an Italian cousin if not a sibling.
Frankly, when I’m sitting down to a family-style Italian meal – or picnic fare from the summer grill – I’d rather enjoy a good, robust Italian table red like a modest Chianti or just about any Montepulciano d’Abruzzo than just about any more snob-worthy high-end red. Today let’s celebrate a fine $ 10 Pisato 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Mouth-watering, crisp and tart, it’s a food-friendly wine from organically grown grapes, a very good example of the Abruzzo style. It’s painfully difficult to track down information on this wine, which I suspect was bottled in Italy with a special label for exclusive export to Whole Foods wine shops. However, Pisato’s bottler, Cantine Volpi SRL, Tortona, Italy, refers refers Website questions about its organic line to ERA Wines, which offers this PDF fact sheet about a range of organics including a similar Montepulciano that may be this wine’s twin. Find plenty more Montepulciano d’Abruzzo bottlings for $ 6 or less using this Wine-Searcher.com link. For more information on Montepulciano and a more extensive list of available wines at all price points, try this Wine-Searcher link.
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