Tuscany Seminar – Day 1 – Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with Mary Ewing Mulligan


Tasting Italian wine first thing in the morning may seem like a great start to the day… It was!   I had the fortune of being involved with this seminar, and I plan to get the most out of it!  I will put together some video footage of all three days of the seminar, but I figured I would post a little something on each day separately, since they each have their own place in the Italian wine world and to see what I could remember… Here is just a brief summary of some of the knowledge I gained today…

I didn’t know much about Vino Nobile di Montepulciano until today, and now I know why. It is the least celebrated, least well known, and also the smallest area of production in Tuscany.  With just about 41,000 acres of vineyards planted on the hilly area of Montepulciano, near Siena,  it has close to the production size of Brunello, but not near the prestige… but it should not be forgotten.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a wine with great history, but not a lot of fame. In pop music terms it is  similar to the “other” Jacksons of the Jackson 5… if you compare say Michael and Janet with Jermaine and Tito, you would say the latter were around longer, but they just didn’t shine as bright.  So who is the M.J. of Tuscany?   Brunello di Montalcino of course!   And the other very famous, sexy, and desireable “Janet Jackson” of Tuscany is Chianti Classico.

Like the Jacksons, all of these wine  regions have a common bloodline if you will… Sangiovese. This grape is the heart of Italian wine. It is one of the oldest and best known grape varieties in all of Italy, and is a very important player in the wine world today (as I believe the Jackson 5 is in the Pop Music world!)

Though there a variety of different Sangiovese clones (about 70 identified to date), studies since the 1980s have shown that Sangiovese is quite adaptable to its home. So even the same exact clone planted in 2 different areas will show differing characteristics. The correlation to pop music seems to be quite appropriate for this variety of grape, not to say that the Jackson 5 and NSync have anything in common, but, hopefully, you understand my correlation ;-).

As we go through this exciting seminar, I will be uncovering the mysteries of the Sangiovese grape in all its glory, and all that it can be.  For Vino Nobile, the wines must be made with a minimum of 70% Sangiovese (also known as Prugnolo gentile), and other varieties include Canaiolo, Mammolo, Colorino, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.  Each blending grape is chosen for its ability to add color, texture, aroma, or some other characteristic to the wine.  The aging requirements have been changed over the years but basically stand at a minimum of 2 years, and another 6 months in bottle, which are shorter than those of Chianti and Brunello.

Big Thanks to Mary Ewing Mulligan, Master of Wine for sharing her knowledge, personal tasting notes, and opinion on some of these very traditional Italian wines!

For more info on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, I enjoyed reading this blog post: Avvinare Blog

More Posts

Wine Rhymes Book

Who’s the author of the first ever Wine Rhymes book? This guy!! Now, when I first started writing wine rhymes I admit, I didn’t think

Less Is More

Drop the lesser fruit to strengthen the remaining fruit on the vine.

Wine & The Green Movement

Where do you stand? I started this post with a question I was looking for an answer to.  I ended it with the realization that