Over the past twenty years, I have been a big fan of Brunello. Having spent some days in Montalcino visiting Banfi Vintner’s enormous estate and castle, I have tons of respect for Italian red blends and the research Banfi has invested in their quest for producing world-class wines.
Just twenty-four miles to the east lies the medieval hilltop town of Montepulciano and its lush valleys. The area’s slopes reach between 800 and 1,900 feet. If you are a fan of Under the Tuscan Sun, you will feel at home in this town, as several locations were featured in the film.
Locals have their own coveted red blended wine (Vee-no No-bile dee Mawn-tay-pul-cheon-no]. While Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is not as universally known as Brunello, better marketing and increased production is responsible for getting more of this wine into the glasses of wine aficionados today.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has a rich history; some have found indications that the Etruscans drank wine in the region as early as 789 A.D. The first official documentation for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano dates back to 1,350! This wine gained its name from the noblemen and poets who lovingly drank it.
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines and the town of Montepulciano are not to be confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which is grown in Abruzzi near the Adriatic Sea.
If you are looking to explore Tuscany, without the Disney World-like crowds that are found in Florence, consider Montepulciano. It is more laid back and less touristic.
Things to do:
1) Wine Tasting:
A beautiful, grand napa-esque destination winery with spacious grounds and tasting room. Top wines include Rosso di Montepulciano and Vino Nobile. http://www.carlettipoliziano.com/eng/azienda.html
La Braccesca Winery
An ambitious wine estate that has been created by Italian wine icon Marchesi Antinori and his daughters. The estate is located in Cortona, which is a 20-minute drive from Montepulciano and well worth a visit. Top wines include Syrah and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. http://www.antinori.it/en/passione-in-evoluzione/la-braccesca
Il Cavalierino Winery
This small estate winery is located in the countryside. They produce a range of organic wines, raise pigs, and sell a wonderful line of food products. The estate also rents apartments on a short-term basis. http://www.cavalierino.it/en/
For more info about Montepulciano fine quality wines visit the official website of The Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The organization was founded in 1965 with the aim of protecting and promoting the image of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (and later, the Rosso and Vin Santo) in Italy and around the world.There are currently 230 grower-members of the Consorzio, representing over 90% of the local vineyards. Sixty-seven of the 89 local bottlers are also members of the Consorzio. http://www.consorziovinonobile.it/
2) Tour The Region
Etruria Tour: Guido Tavanti, the owner, provides personalized, informative tours to wineries and points of interest throughout Montepulciano and Tuscany. http://www.etruriatour.it/
3) Taste Olive Oil
Frantoio di Montepulciano
The local association of olive oil producers has a great shop in town where you can taste and purchase Tuscan olive oil and accessories. Note: The website is not reflective of the shop.
Via di Martiena 2, 53045 Montepulciano
Tel.: +39 0578 716305
4) Cheese Tasting
Cugusi il Pecorino Pienza is a wonderful producer of Pecorino. You can visit and purchase cheese, salumi and wine for consumption in their picnic area or your hotel. The dairy is located on the beautiful hills that join the medieval Montepulciano and the Renaissance town of Pienza, villages of Italy known for their beauty and which are tourist centers of international renown.
Caseificio Cugusi Silvana Srl
Via della Boccia, 8
Tel./Fax: +39 0578 757558
5) SPA Treatments
Montepulciano Terme and Spa
The physical and chemical properties of the waters at the Montepulciano Thermal Baths make them ideally suited for the prevention and cure of various problems affecting the body’s organs and systems.
Editor's note: This is part one of my two part story. Part two will include more information about Vino Nobile Wines, Where to eat and where to stay! Please subscribe to my column to receive updates.
For mouth-watering photos and more details on this amazing region, visit Wine Country International Magazine: