When you talk about Italian wines, there’s the ever-popular Moscato (how can anyone resist the bubbliness?), the Chianti Clasico (a mainstay of “rustic” pizza joints everywhere in America), and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
Considering where it’s from, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo gets a lot more attention than grapes from more famous locations in Italy, such as Veneto or Tuscany. That probably has something to do with its low-key home region, Abruzzo. Located to the southeast of Rome with the Apennine Mountains forming its western spine and the Adriatic Sea bordering it to the east, this region has intriguing topographical qualities that make it ideal for growing hardy grapes. What Abruzzo isn’t known for is the sort of high-profile tourist destination such as Florence, Venice, or Rome. Have you ever heard of Pescara? No? Exactly.
Luckily, the region has a valuable export to share with the world: its wine. The finest Montepulciano grapes come from the higher-altitude province of L’Aquila, where grapes can be grown at elevations thousands of feet above sea level. This leads to a more concentrated, deeply tannic flavor and dark ruby coloring. Montepulciano wines contain a minimum 85% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, and some blend Sangiovese to fill out the remainder. A certain subset of Montepulciano, the Colline Teramane, requires 90%. Because of the chemical nature of the grapes, this wine doesn’t respond much to aging; that can be a boon or a turnoff depending on what you’re looking for.
The flavor profile of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine leans toward red fruit, with some darker, spicier notes. The dominant aspects of its flavor include red plum, sour cherry, boysenberry, tar, and oregano. Generally, there are two schools of thought when it comes to ageing this wine: do it with new oak, or don’t age at all. The oak-aged Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines have garnered an almost cult-like following in recent years. Those deep-black fruit flavors, as well as notes of licorice, cacao, and coffee, have made fans out of many prominent wine critics. Oak-aged Montepulciano wine doesn’t come cheap, though: expect to shell out a minimum of $30 a bottle. On the other hand, younger, non-aged Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine leans more toward a red fruit profile, have an earthier flavor, and tend to have a lighter color than their aged counterparts. They still taste delicious, and at $10 for a great bottle, are an absolute steal.
Now that you know a bit about this wine, check out our selection of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. There’s sure to be a bottle here at Liquor Barn that fits your taste and price range.