The origins of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are ancient and tightly linked to the history of the town as evidenced by the observation that wineries are integrated into the fabric of the old town centre. A rich cache of documents and articles relating to the flourishing history of the town is kept in the Politian Archives and shows that as far back as 1350 the terms and conditions governing trade and the exportation of wines from Montepulciano had already been established. In the second half of of the sixteenth century, Pope Paul III extolled the exceptional qualities of the wine. In his poem "Bacchus in Tuscany", Francesco Redi defined it as the "king of all wines", and in the second half of the eighteenth century the Montepulciano wine was accorded the description of "noble", in recognition of its splendid flavour and the idea that it was fit for the tables of the nobility. The reputation of this wine early spread abroad and it is mentioned by Voltaire in his "Candide". Other early foreign admirers included the American Presidents Martin Van Buren and Thomas Jefferson.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
This DOCG is located in the hilly area around the town. The designated area is actually situated inside the large chianti subzone of Colli Senesi (not to be confused with Chianti Classico, the more famous Chianti subzone. This was the very first DOCG in Italy. Unfortunately, its first vintage in 1983 was met with disappointing reviews. That and the fact that over 250,000 cases of this wine are now produced each year has somewhat diminished its "noble" aspect. Quality since that 1983 vintage has improved, however, and wines from the top producers are viewed as some of Italy's best. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines are made from 60 to 80 percent Prugnolo (sangiovese), 10 to 20 percent canaiolo, and up to 20 percent of other varieties (although no more than 10 percent white). One of the other red varieties most often used is the Mammolo, which adds the scent of violets to the bouquet. White grapes like trebbiano and malvasia are no longer required, which allows winemakers to produce wines that are more intense and longer lived. The wines of this DOCG must be aged for two years in oak or chestnut casks, three years for those labeled riserva. In 1989 a new doc - rosso di montepulciano - was established. It's located in exactly the same area and uses the exact same grape varieties as for the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. This change has allowed producers to reclassify some of the wines originally intended from Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to the Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. Lesser wines were foreseen to be used in the new DOC, thereby raising the overall quality of wines designated Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG. Interestingly, there are a number of Rossos that are better drinking than many Vino Nobiles.
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