Rosso di Montepulciano

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is long-known fine Tuscan wine. Francisco Redi, a 17th century Italian physician, naturalist, and poet, concluded his poem Bacco in Toscana (Bacchus in Tuscany) with the line “Montepulciano of every wine is king“.

My experience mirrors that. I started drinking Italian wine with Chianti, as many do – and I discovered Montepulciano in a happy accident at my local wine store.

In looking for inexpensive wines, however, the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a bit of a challenge. These wines start at about $20 and go up quickly from there. Luckily, there’s a “second line” wine that works almost as well. Just as bottles simply labeled “Nebbiolo” are the bargain versions of Barolo and Barbaresco, there’s an inexpensive alternative to the VNdM – it’s Rosso di Montepulciano. Same growing area, similar style, and considerably less expensive.

I tried the Poliziano 2003 Rosso di Montepulciano recently. The wine has a very interesting color — while translucently dark hued, its color belies its weight. The wine has a very fruity nose that’s a little bit floral. Taste-wise, it’s not too heavy with some really nice tartness and fruit. The finish, like many Tuscan wines in my experience, is a little bit chalky. I wouldn’t drink this wine as a stand-alone. However, if you pair this (as I did) with something like a Penne Amatriciana, this wine opens up a whole other realm of flavor.

I’ve always found Italian wines to be much better with food than on their own and this one is no exception. At $13-15, an exceptional bottle.

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