The Montepulciano Vine

We just recently began enjoying the products of this amazing vine, as it was considered Sangiovese until the ampelographic analysis of the 1970s. This mistake was probably due to the massive cultivation of Sangiovese grapes in the Montepulciano area, in Tuscany.

Geographic Location

Together with Sangiovese, the Montepulciano is one of the most important vines of central Italy: it can be found and grown with quality from Marche to Apulia, Abruzzo, and Molise and both on the side of the Appennini alps and by the sea.

In a so wide growing surface, more than 300 Km long, the Montepulciano creates 40 DOC areas and 3 DOCG areas.

The origins of Montepulciano

The ampelographic studies dating 1970s have finally clarified that Montepulciano is a completely different variety and it was mistakenly identified as Sangiovese. Nowadays we also know that Montepulciano is a native vine and its ancient origins are located in the Marche region.

How to recognize Montepulciano grapes

This vine has a medium-sized leaf, 5-lobed and pentagonal.

montepulciano grapes italy
Montepulciano grapes

The grapes are round or slightly elliptic, medium-sized and have an intense blue color. The really thick skin, covered with bloom, clearly identifies the fruits of this vine plant, which have to be harvested later than the others (October) to allow them t complete their maturation.

The clusters have a medium size, and are compact, conic, with one or two wings.

Organoleptic analysis of Montepulciano wines

The keys characteristics of wines coming from Montepulciano grapes are the great structure and aromaticity.

Those wines have a huge potential and are, naturally, appreciated all over the world, but Montepulciano is a wine for the mountain, spiky and savage that has to be tamed during every single step of the vinification: just a single mistake and its strong character reveals again, with its great and long acidity.

Depending of its growing region, very wide across 6 Italian regions, the Montepulciano has different aromas and shades that smooth its corners and enrich it.

All the wines produced with Montepulciano grapes have a strong ruby red color, shiny and intense.

Wines from Montepulciano grapes

With a so rebel but round vine, it can’t be else than amazing wines being produced: the many influences coming from the mountains, the sea, woods or lakes of the more than 300 Km long surface where these Montepulciano grapes are grown, help to create a lot of different amazing wines.

In Marche

Beginning our trip from the northernmost part of the region, we find Montepulciano in the Conero DOCG wine, which must be produced with at least 85% of Montepulciano grapes with a maximum of 15% Sangiovese grapes. The central location of this denomination area is Mount Conero, whose closeness to the sea gives a special influence to the vineyards, and the resulting wines have a strong, but nice, sapidity. Conero DOCG wine must age at least two years in wooden barrels, to improve its roundness and perfume.

The second important area, another DOCG, is the Rosso di Offida DOCG. For this wine, as for Conero DOCG, the minimum of Montepulciano grapes to be used is 85%, while the rest can be any non-aromatic grapes grown in the area. The aging must last 24 months, which at least 12 must be in wooden barrels, and 3 into the bottle.

A third really important denomination area in the Marche region is the Rosso Piceno DOC, from which the wine name comes, and which covers the provinces of Ancona, Macerata, and Fermo.

montepulciano vineyards in italy
Montepulciano vineyards in central Italy

In Abruzzo

Moving to Abruzzo, the most important growing area is also the most famous concerning this vine, the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, which counts also 5 special areas (prestigious areas where the rules are even stricter). The minimum of Montepulciano grapes to be used to produce Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC is 85%, while the rest can be other grapes from Abruzzo.

The only DOCG of this region is the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG, in the province of Teramo: the wines that bear this title must be 90% Montepulciano, a maximum of 10% Sangiovese, and age for at least one year, 2 months of which inside the bottle. When this wine is left age for 3 years or more, it may be entitled “Riserva”.

DOC wines from Montepulciano grapes are also produced in Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Molise, Apulia, Basilicata, and the IGT denominations are diffuse in all these regions plus Campania.

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