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Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2008/09/10

Posted by Daddy Dave in Reviews, shopping.
Tags: , ,

For years, even as a “single man”,  I have “set the table” for my evening meal.  I simply prefer to have my dinner at a table, complete with a table cloth, napkin, candle and a glass of red wine.  It’s that “bella figura” thing, I guess. Ruth adopted this habit, and now we have our family meals in this way as a matter of course, and we think it’s a “good thing” (see UK Dining Etiquette Survey).

However, lately we have grown tired of the same old wines, so we began exploring when we saw a sale at Tesco at the beginning of “summer”.  One of the ones we came across that we liked a lot was the Montepulciano D’Abruzzo.

I thought I would write here about this wine simply because it seems to be surprisingly (a) available everywhere and (b) cheap considering the facts we discovered about it.

The first one we tried from Tesco was the organic “Bellicia”, which we got half price at about £3.  It was delicious, and so we bought a case of six bottles just before the sale finished and before the price went back up.

We then spotted a non-organic Montepulciano D’Abruzzo — also at Tesco for just £2.80, so we tried a bottle — and to be honest, it was just as good as the Bellicia Organic version, but half the price.

Oddly enough, we noticed that the price of the Bellicia organic Montepulciano D’Abruzzo has dropped a bit recently; it’s now £5.49.

This is a penny more than the “Blossom Hill” branded version that I found in my local Somerfield store, but this Blossom Hill Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is not organic! Mind you I did find a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo in Somerfield that was £5.12. I guess the branding “Blossom Hill” might have something to do with it!

It took some finding in Oddbins, but we managed to get a bottle of their Montepulciano D’Abruzzo at at £4.49 — which is the same price as M&S Foodhall’s Montepulciano D’Abruzzo.

Lidl also do a cheap Montepulciano D’Abruzzo under their “Taste of Italy” range.  This competes with the Tesco version being around the three quid mark.

According to Delicious Italy, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is made almost exclusively with grapes from vines of the same name. Only ten percent is exported from Italy! A quarter remains in the local area, and the rest — 65% is drunk by Italians themselves.

The top of the range has a brilliant ruby red color and a dry, mellow, pungent, slightly tannic taste. It is a robust wine that ages well

“In the official classification of Italian DOC wines Montepulciano D’Abruzzo is in sixth place, behind Chianti, Asti, Oltrepò Pavese, Soave, and Valpolicella…”Some say the brand has benefited from confusion with Nobile di Montepulciano, but a steady annual increase in production over the last 15 years is no fluke”.

This is slightly at odds with the information from the website of the consortium of wine makers in that area! They say that, rather than being sixth in the DOC classification, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is THIRD best (since the exception year of 2006 apparently)!

“80% of the total production of denomination wines produced in Abruzzo is supplied by Montepulciano, which is also among the first three DOC wines produced in Italy.
Montepulciano is a thriving vine and on average late (the grapes always mature between the first and the second ten-day period of October).”

The rules seem quite strict regarding this wine’s production:

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC is only obtained from vineyards located in hilly grounds or plateau, whose altitude must not be higher than 500 metres above sea level and exceptionally 600 metres for those southwardly exposed. The surface registered for this specific cultivation is about 13.700 hectares.

“The maximum grape yield per quintal must not exceed 140 for hectare while the minimum alcoholic gradation must be equal to 11,5% vol. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is exclusively obtained from the grapes of the homonymous vine, with a little addition (max 15%) of other grapes coming from different red berry vines that can be grown in the territory of Abruzzo region.”

It is adaptable to several cultivation systems, it is resistant and generous; it produces a wine with decidedly interesting organoleptic features of immediate pleasantness if drunk “young” (from six to eight months to eighteen months from the vintage, as happens with many less expensive wines), while it proves to be complex and superior in quality when aged for longer in oak barrels, as happens with more expensive wines.

We would agree that this wine is different, and delicious.  We can hardly believe that it is so widely available — but at a considerable variation in price.

On the other hand, the much more expensive Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (according to the rules for the DOCG) has to be made from 60-80% Prugnolo Gentile (a local name for Sangioveto Grosso, the same variety of Sangiovese that produces Brunello), 10-20% Canaiolo Nero, and up to 20% lesser grapes whose use is authorized in the Province of Siena; it cannot include more than 10% white grapes, and the only aromatic grape allowed is Malvasia del Chianti.

The confusion between Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Nobile di Montepulciano is obvious.  One is a wine made from various grapes in a Tuscan town called Montepulciano, the other is a wine made from Montepulciano grapes in a region called Abruzzo that is nowhere near Tuscany.

I’ll be honest, the £15-a-bottle Nobile is not as drinkable and delicious as the £3 d’Abruzzo. Seriously, and the DOC classification backs me up, whether it is sixth or third, d’Abruzzo is a sure winner. So there you have it — Somerfield is the most expensive shop, but Tesco or Lidl do this extraordinary wine for just three quid a bottle, and that is just amazing!

[Picture of wine at Morrison's]November 2008 CORRECTION: Somerfield is not the most expensive; I just found out that Morrision’s is £8!


1. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Wine - Gathering a Landscape in a Glass - 2009/10/20

[…] wine lovers in the UK read here of where to buy Montepulciano d'Abruzzo at local […]

2. Abruzzo red wines Italy - 2014/04/11

Tasty recommendations! These wines are worth trying. Abruzzo is a marvelous region.

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