This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080123.php.
Speaking of Montepulciano
I recently raved about an unusual Montepulciano, an Italian red wine made in Italy's Marche region for import, distribution and sale by Mosby, a winery in California's Central Coast.
Today let's take a quick trip back to Italy for a look at another wine made from Montepulciano grapes in the variety's more customary home, Abruzzo.
As we've discussed before, Montepulciano is one of Italy's more confusing wine words. Depending on the bottle you have in hand, it may be the name of a grape (as in today's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or Mosby's Montepulciano Marche Rosso); or it may be the name of a region (as in Tuscany's Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made from the Sangiovese grape).
Indeed, if you're not paying close attention, you might confuse either wine with Tuscany's Brunello di Montalcino, a Sangiovese-clone variety that has nothing to do with Montepulciano except a vaguely similar-sounding name.
What they do have in common is a simple but delightful reality: Although there's no close genetic kinship that I know of between the Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes, a good Montepulciano - like a good Chianti - represents for me the quintessence of Italian red table wines: A happy combination of fruit and tart, food-friendly acidity that invariably makes me smile. My tasting notes are below.
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Caldora 2006 Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ($11.99)
Inky blackish-purple with a clear garnet edge. Good, full scent, black plums and subtle earth, a whiff of well-integrated oak. Fresh plums on the palate, nicely balanced by food-friendly acidity and soft tannins. Not overly complex, but might get that way with a few years of careful cellar time. U.S. importer: Vin DiVino Ltd., Chicago. (Jan. 20, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Any red meat or hearty meat or cheese pasta sauce will work well. It was fine with country-style beef and vegetable soup made with leftover beef short ribs and barley, with fresh baked Pugliese bread.
VALUE: No complaints at this value price, although bargain-seekers may want to shop around, as it's under $10 in some markets.
WHEN TO DRINK: Although lower-price Montepulcianos are meant for drinking, not cellaring, the variety in general ages well. As noted, it could be an interesting experiment to put a few away just to see what happens over three to five years.
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