Montepulciano is a red grape variety characteristic of the Abruzzo region of central Italy, where a wide range of styles are produced. Only in the red wine category can we find sweet and fruity reds suitable for everyday consumption, quirky wines from unique locations and even dense and remarkable examples that deserve to show their best qualities over time.
A variety of maturation tanks can be used, from neutral tanks such as stainless steel, concrete and amphora to toasted oak barrels of varying sizes and degrees of roasting. They all produce different results that are delicious on their own, but complement the richness of cherries inherent in the grapes.
Below are 12 Montepulcianos in different price ranges and styles to show you the expressions you prefer.
Masciarelli 2015 Villa Gemma Riserva (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $90, 94 points. This premium Montepulciano impresses with its rich aromas of cocoa, cigar box, dill and anise that linger in a deep well of black cherries and black plums infused with brandy. The mouth is full and enveloping, but quadrangular in nature, built by fine, polished tannins and integrated acidity that frame the very dense black fruit. The spicy plums linger on the long finish, a sign that this wine will hold up well in the cellar. Drink at least 2022-2030. OOO Vintus. Basement selection. -Alexandrowski-Tree
Amorotti 2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo; $44, 93 points. Dense aromas of black plums and blackberries are enhanced by accents of crushed herbs and mint in this Montepulciano, aged for 23 months in large, spotless Slavonian barrels. The fleshy fruit on the palate is polished to a high degree of brilliance, with a sensation of integrated tannins and lively acidity. There’s not a hair on the head of that confident redhead. Drink now. The wines of Jan D’Amore. -P.A.
Francesco Cirelli 2018 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo; $22, 93 points. Freshly pressed blackberries, cherries and cranberries are given earthy elements of ground grass and gravel in this Montepulciano amphora. The berry fruit on the palate is medium-bodied, with a polished, supple finish, with streaks of crushed minerals and earthy spice adding depth. The finish lingers on a bright note of cherries. Zev Rovenskiy chooses. Editor’s Choice. -P.A.
Cantina Tollo 2015 Cagitlo Riserva (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $25, 92 points. This dark red wine has an intense taste of plums and blackberries dipped in cognac, with spicy and tobacco accents. Rich on the palate, the black plum flavors are wrapped in a blanket of polished tannins and enlivened by unwavering acidity. This red has a brilliance and depth that takes time to develop. Drinking 2022 2028. Wine Veritas. Basement selection. -P.A.
Terra d’Aligi 2016 Tatone (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $17, 91 points. Dense aromas of cherry and blackberry with brandy mingle with hearty doses of tobacco, anise and cardamom in this sensual red wine. The full-bodied taste is round and smooth, with concentrated flavors of black currants and plums, enhanced by a mix of sweet and salty spices. A tight weave of tannins holds everything together, but never distracts from the fruit. Drink it now. Enotec Imports, Inc. -P.A.
Torre Zambra 2016 Villamagna; $29, 91 points. Made entirely from Montepulciano, this red wine begins with a brilliant nose of tobacco, crushed herbs and black pepper. The palate is silky, soft and juicy, with a robust taste of red cherries with plenty of acidity and exciting tannins holding it all together. Debris and other weeds give interesting long-term results. Triple import. -P.A.
Contesa 2017 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo; $18, 90 points. On the nose, dense aromas of red cherries and plums soaked in brandy come together with a hearty mix of sweet spices and crushed herbs. The mid palate is round and shows a juicy mix of fresh cherry and plum fruit, peppered with sweet spice. Vinifer Imports. -P.A.
La Valentina 2016 Speltta Riserva (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $22, 90 points. Bright red cherry mills, with crushed granite and spice on the nose of this red wine. The palate is medium-bodied and juicy, with a bright red cherry flavor supported by a line of crisp tannins and fresh acidity. Dalla Terra Winery Direct. -P.A.
Nicodemi 2017 Notari (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Collin Teramane); $23, 90 points. An enviable concentration on the nose of this wine that exudes aromas of black cherry, plum, salt and tobacco. The power and lace of berries with thick skin on a medium-bodied palette, folded with a robust tannic framework and pushed by a refreshing vein of acidity. Regal Wine Imports Inc. -P.A.
Illuminati 2018 Lumeggio (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $18, 89 points. Aromas of brandy-soaked cherries, wet tobacco and warm spices contribute to a well-concentrated nose. Supple tannins and fresh acidity create a rich cherry flavor on the palate, while warm spice lingers nearby. Importers of wine from Moncalm. -P.A.
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Aromas for red wine
Talamonti 2017 Tre Saggi (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $19, 89 points. This luxurious red wine is rich in fruit and warm spices. The dense core of brandy-soaked cherries is sprinkled with spice, cinnamon and clove, framed by a structure of firm, tart tannins that bring out all this richness. There’s a lot of acid to provide some balance, but at the end of the day, it’s still scalding and addictive and needs a nutritious protein to counter it. Panebianco. -P.A.
Umani Ronchi 2018 Podere (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $13, 88 points. Aromas of crushed menthol greens, blackberries and black pepper give the nose a fresh and clean touch. On the palate, this light Montepulciano offers a juicy core of cherry and blackberry flavors framed by subtle but supportive tannins. It is an excellent everyday red wine that will be welcome on the dinner table. Vines. Best buy. -P.A.
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