Tuscany’s Tiny Gem: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Chianti and Brunello are celebrated wines from Tuscany and are known by many. But the noblest wine from Tuscany is Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. After all, it is in the name. A “wine of the nobles”, it has been drunk by Italian Kings, Popes, and Presidents throughout history. It is Tuscany’s tiny gem and offers a wealth of wines to discover.

Tuscany is one of the 20 regions in Italy. Located in Central Italy, Florence is the capital. Tuscany is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, but it is also one of the three primary winemaking regions in Italy. Tuscany extends from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west to Umbria and Marche to the east. In between, Tuscany is filled with rolling hills that become steeper, higher, more intense mountains to the east. 

Montepulciano is a historic medieval and Renaissance hill town in the province of Siena in southern Tuscany. The town is on top of a limestone ridge that is 1,985 feet high and overlooks surrounding vineyards of predominantly Sangiovese. The higher-elevation vineyards have more sandy soils, resulting in more fine, structured wines. The lower-elevation vineyards are clay dominant, resulting in wines with a broader, richer palate. The climate is continental with Mediterranean influences and cold winters which contribute to the great structure and acidity of the wines.

Wines from the Montepulciano area have been recognized for centuries. There are records from 1350 that reflect the first markings of structured rules about how wines could be made. And Montepulciano was one of the first places in the world to apply some control on the trade of their wines. The greatness of the wines continued to be written about in the 1500-1600s. In 1931, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano first appeared on the label. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano received DOC status in 1966 and then in 1980, it received DOCG status. 

The Consorzio was founded in 1965 to promote and protect the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in Italy and the rest of the world. The wine producers that are currently members represent 90% of the registered vineyards producing Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and there are 78 wineries associated with the consortium. Beginning in May 2022, the Consortium of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is the first Consortium in Italy to be certified sustainable. 70% of wineries are invested in sustainability and 90% have sustainability projects underway. More than 70% have a photovoltaic system, 35% have a solar thermal system, 20% have wastewater recovery systems, and 10% are invested in geothermal energy. 

Vino di Montepulciano is made from the grape Sangiovese, which means “the blood of Jove”. Sangiovese is the most planted grape in Italy. It is the grape used not just for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG but also used for Chianti DOCG, Chianti Classico DOCG, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Carmignano DOCG, and Morellino di Scansano DOCG. This single grape variety will have a different taste from one region to another. 

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano must be made from a minimum of 70% Sangiovese, also called Prugnolo Gentile. Other grapes that can be used are indigenous: Colorino, which adds color, Canaiolo, which adds structure and broadness and some aromatics, and Mammolo, which offers a floral, aromatic lift, as well as international grapes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 

There are four different bottlings of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The largest production is the top-quality Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG which requires 2 years of aging (1 year in wood). There is the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG which requires 3 years of aging (1 year in wood and 6 months in bottle). The Vino Rosso di Montepulciano DOC can be released on the first of March after harvest. This wine is more fruit-forward, brighter in color, less structured, less expensive, and broadly food friendly. The Vin Santo di Montepulciano DOC is a dessert wine made from withered or dried grapes and requires 3 years of aging.

The wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano have a clear sense of identity. Typical aromas include raspberry, plum, violet, and strawberry. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines are high in acidity and tannin with well-integrated oak resulting in elegant and velvety wines with freshness. These qualities make the wines a perfect match with tomato-based sauces and meats.

Nine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Wines to Look For

Fattoria Svetoni 2019 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

Mostly Sangiovese, this pleasurable and savory wine has pretty notes of cherry and strawberry, as well as lots of spice including cinnamon bark. 

Bindella 2018 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

A blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Colorino, Canaiolo, and Mammolo, the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and matured 20-22 months in large oak casks, followed by at least six months in bottle. The grapes come from a combination of sandy and clay soils resulting in a wine with notes of dusty cranberry, herbs, wet stone, and earth. 

Il Conventino 2018 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

A blend of 85% Prugnolo Gentile and 15% Colorino and Canaiolo that spend 24 months in Slavonian oak barrels followed by time in the bottle. A more aromatic wine, this wine has notes of red apple skins, soft denim-like tannins, and a fresh juiciness rushes onto the palate. 

Il Molinaccio di Montepulciano “La Spinosa” 2018 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

100% Sangiovese, this savory wine has aromas of violets, fennel, cedar, woody, cinnamon stick.

La Ciarliana 2018 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

This is an elegant wine with notes of violets, vanilla, allspice, and cedar and a lovely liveliness on the palate from the play of acid and tannins.

Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano “Cantina del Redi” 2018 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

Made from mostly Sangiovese, this wine has classic cherry and red berry, as well as spice notes and a long fruity finish. 

Podere Casanova 2017 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

Made from 97% Sangiovese, the wine has notes of plums, ripe red fruit, black cherry, tobacco, and coffee. 

Carpineto 2018 Riserva Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo, the wine was aged for two years in large Slavonia oak, with a small portion in French oak. The wine has violet, dark red berries, wood aromas, and a long, elegant finish.

Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta 2017 Riserva Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG

A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot, this wine has an intense nose with black cherry, red berries, plum, leather, and spice notes, velvety tannins and a vibrant finish.

Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate, a boutique agency specializing in marketing and event planning for the wine and spirits industry. With over 15 years of experience in communications, marketing, and event planning, Allison is passionate about the world around her and the diverse people in it. Allison is a freelance writer and contributes to numerous publications, as well as her blog at www.pleasethepalate.com. She is the host of the podcast WineSoundtrack USA where she interviews winemakers and winery owners who share their stories, insights, and some humorous anecdotes. She also co-hosts a wine video series on YouTube called Crush On This. Allison holds a master’s degree in International Communications with a focus on cross-cultural training from the American University School of International Service. She also holds a WSET Level 3 Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers.