Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano impressive both in value, quality
For my money, the most misunderstood, great Tuscan red is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a sangiovese-based red from the southern region of Tuscany, not far from Montalcino.
The reason for the lack of understanding about this classic wine is that the name “Montepulciano” is as well a grape name. Hence, the well-known Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is from the region of Abruzzo, and is made with the grape called Montepulciano. Conversely, the Vino Nobile moniker requires sangiovese, and comes from the town of Montepulciano. Simply, the last word in an Italian wine name is usually the town from which it comes, and the word before the “d”, “della” or “di” is normally the grape name.
There is no confusion when one has a true Vino Nobile di Monepulciano as these are striking wines with a suppleness that few great Tuscan reds possess, and always this delightful plum, spice and currant freshness shows in the mouth.
Normally, these wines begin around $20 per, but I tried the 2008 Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano ($15) and was impressed by both the value and quality. Vecchia Cantina began in the latter 1930s and was the co-op where all the small, yet high-quality growers took their fruit to be marketed. Over the years they have developed quite a reputation for high quality wines, and this blend of 90 percent sangiovese and 10 percent caniolo qualifies as a great success.
As noted, I found the wine’s perfume to show the plum and spice of a wood-aged, ripe wine (two years in botti, or oak casks), and the mouth had a roundness and richness that made me think grilled steak. The finish was long and delectable, and overall this struck me as a tremendous offer. If your place doesn’t carry it, have the manager contact WinesLLC in Eastlake.
Roger Gentile is the owner of Gentile’s, the Wine Sellers – www.gentiles.com – and the author of two books on wine.