Wine in the Fog – Montepulciano
In October we went an an embassy sponsored trip to Montepulciano – for a wine tasting, and to check out the town.
The views from the edge of town weren’t as good as they might normally be, because it was foggy out. But the main town square looked eerily beautiful in the fog. You might recognize the square above from one of the Twilight movies – they built a temporary fountain in the middle of it. (For the scene when Edward is planning to step out into the sunlight, and Bella stops him … in Volterra, which is also an Italian town nearby – I don’t know why they didn’t use it)
The person who organized the tour has met the Contucci family on several previous visits, so we were fortunate enough to get an extra tour inside the Palazzo itself. The palazzo is still the family home, although they sometimes use some of the common rooms for special events. This room is full of Trompe-l’oeil paintings by an artist who usually only did frescoes in churches. Apparently he was in town painting a church, and knew the family, so painted them a room. They use this room for family weddings, and sometimes for special concerts on their 17th(?) century piano.
The tour continued through the Wine Cellar. In Medieval times the cities were walled for the protection of the citizens and their goods, wineries would grow grapes outside the city and then do all of their wine production and storage within the walls to keep the wine protected. There were even escape tunnels in case the city was overrun. The Contucci winery is the only winery that still does all of its wine production within the walls of Montepulciano.
The Contucci Winery is best known for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Vino Nobile was red wine for the nobles, by the nobles. Italy’s famous chianti was for the lower classes. This one tasting was probably the best I’ve ever attended in terms of learning about the wine. So, bear with me as I share the parts I thought were most interesting.
Bianco della Contessa – White Wine
Vino Rosso – A simpler red Wine
vino Nobile (Misto) – A Nobile with grapes from all of Contucci’s Vineyards
vino nobile (pietra rosso) clay – A Nobile made only with grapes from the Contucci’s ‘Pietra Rosso’ (Red Rock) vineyard, which has clay soil that is very good for san giovese grapes.
vino nobile (Moulin Vecchio) – A Nobile made only with grapes from the Contucci’s ‘Moulin Vecchio’ (Old Windmill) vineyard
Vino Nobile Riserva – A wine made from the very best grapes of the year from their vineyards
(The grape harvesters are actually skilled workers who know how to identify the best grapes)
My personal two favorites were the Pietra Rosso, and the Misto.
Vino Nobile Wine is made from 3 different grapes:
San Giovese: 80% of the wine. This is also the major grape in Chianti and Barolo wine.
Canaiolo Nero: for color
Mammolo: for nose
We learned that 2001, 4, 6, 7, 9 were good years in Tuscany, and that 2002 was so bad that there were no grapes of sufficient quality to make Nobile. That year, they used Nobile grapes to make regular rosso. And Rosso grapes to make table wine.
One of the more amusing parts of the wine tasting was hearing the explanation from the wine experts about Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. Abruzzo is another region in Italy. People often confuse Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. According to legend the D’Abruzzo wine was started by some men who stole some grape vines from Montepulciano, transplanted them to Abruzzo, and began their own wine production. According to our host, the type of grape used in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo isn’t even found in montepulciano. It was interesting to hear his tirade about the wine. Particularly when he tried to politely explain that the confusion between wines was particularly frustrating because Montepulciano d’Abruzzo used to be undrinkable. He did, however say that the wine has come a long way, and that there are now several good ones. (And it is among the top 3 Italian wines sold: 1) Chianti, 2) Asti, 3) Montepulciano d’Abruzzo)
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