Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Vee-no No-beel-eh dee Mon-teh-pool-cha-no
Parents & Origin: Sangiovese and other varietals (Central Italy)
Grape: Small, spherical, dark purple skin
Flavors: Cherry, plum, strawberry, dark berries
Notable Regions: Italy
The History of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is one of Tuscany’s classic red wines, made primarily from the Sangiovese grape. Sangiovese can be traced back to ancient Rome, where it quickly rose to become one of Tuscany’s most celebrated grapes, with DNA profiling in 2004 revealing that Sangiovese’s parent grapes were Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo.
Sangiovese has had a storied history as both a blending grape and a varietal wine. One of its primary growing areas is the town of Montepulciano, in which winemaking has been prevalent since the 8th century. Thus, the original blend for Nobile wine contains a majority of Sangiovese grapes, with Cannaiolo usually making up the rest. By 1685, Montepulciano wine was hailed as “the king of all wines” by poet Francesco Redi.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was originally called "Vino rosso scelto di Montepulciano," but winemaker Adamo Fanetti began calling his product “nobile” (noble) around 1930 in order to promote his product. Nobile was a resounding success, especially after its appearance at the first wine trade show in Siena in 1931. Following Fanetti’s footsteps, many Chianti winemakers refocused their efforts toward Nobile.
Nobile was granted DOC status by the Italian government in 1966, followed by DOCG status in 1980. While its popularity declined slightly in the later part of the 20th century, it remains heralded as a truly “noble” wine and one of Italy’s best. However, it has not caught on in the United States, making it more affordable than many other imported wines.
Interesting Fact: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is often confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, though, in fact, they are two very different wines! Nobile is made from Sangiovese grapes in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano, while Abruzzo is made from Montepulciano grapes in a region that does not even border Tuscany.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Food Pairings
Due to its high acidity, medium body, and smooth tannins, Nobile is a relatively easy-drinking wine that pairs well with various foods.
The Best Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Food Pairings
Like its sibling Chianti, Nobile’s flavors go well with any classic Italian dish such as pizza or pasta with red sauce. Its versatility also allows it to pair with barbecue dishes, spicy Asian foods, and much more.
Food Pairings to Avoid with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Like most red wines, Sangiovese is not ideal for lighter dishes such as those involving seafood or fish, despite the wine’s relative versatility.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Tasting Notes
Nobile offers primary flavors of cherry, plum, strawberry, and dark berries, with subtle spice and earth notes. In contrast to stronger reds, Nobile wines have medium-bodied and tannin composition, balanced with cleansing high acidity. This means that Nobile is easy to drink and easy to pair with a variety of foods. While much Nobile is consumed within a few years of bottling, some of the finest examples can be aged up to 20 years! Regardless, an oak aging period of 1 year is required by DOCG regulations for all Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
DOCG regulations stipulate many details about the Nobile winemaking process. All Nobile wines must be aged for at least one year in oak barrels, plus an additional year of bottle aging. Regulations also ensure that each Nobile wine contains a minimum of 60% Sangiovese, with any remainder comprising Cannaiolo (usually 10-20%) and other local varieties such as Mammolo. Wines labeled Riserva must undergo an additional year of aging before release and other requirements.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano's Aging Potential
Nobile can be consumed immediately after release (2-3 years after harvest) for a wine with a ruby red color that bursts with fresh fruit flavors. However, many Nobiles exhibit a much longer aging potential of up to 20 years. Suppose one chooses to age Nobile over the typical range of 5-10 years. In that case, the wine obtains a more brick-like color, and secondary characteristics of tobacco, leather, and candied fruit flavors emerge.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in a Nutshell
Since its ancient origins in Central Italy, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has risen to become one of Italy’s most celebrated “wines of kings” while maintaining a reasonable price point in the United States. Nobile functions as balanced and easy-drinking red wine with a great deal of aging potential, offering flavors of cherry, plum, strawberry, and dark berries. Pair a bottle of Nobile with Italian classics, meat dishes, or spicy foods.