montepulciano d’abruzzo: what’s cool in wine right now

From the elegant and svelte to the overextracted and black, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo comes in as many styles as towns in the Abruzzo region of central-eastern Italy. And as many degrees of quality. Get the right wine though, and you have a rich Cote-Rotie but at the fraction of the price.

The Montepulciano grape is very powerful, big variety which is Mediterranean in style – you can taste the warmth and herbal character from the earth. It is big but not heavy, and a good example shows a vigour that is sometimes missing from overripe Rhone or Shiraz.

What’s great for us is it tends to sit as the second cheapest wine on wine lists everywhere in London. But don’t confuse it with a distinctly different wine with a similar sounding name, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

This ‘Montepulciano’ denotes the name of the town in Tuscany, made with Sangiovese and is a lot dearer, whereas Montepulciano d’Abruzzo describes the name of the grape variety (the grape called Montepulciano) from the Abruzzo region and is usually found starting at £5 per bottle up.

Adventurous, stylish and if made well, excellent value.

Two contrasting styles from leaders in the Abruzzo region:

1) the very traditional and polished wine from Illuminati, Zanna Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG 2006 or,

2) the modern style from Masciarelli, Villa Gemma Rosso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 2005. Large Zinfandel-like with ability to be aged for up to 10 years.