About The Author:

"Roger, The Wine Guy" is Roger Yazell, CWS. He is a member of the International Wine Guild and has had a long time admiration of wine. After careers in broadcasting, advertising and marketing account management, he explored his love of wine in hospitality, wholesale and retail sales. The intent of Roger's Grapevine is to share stories, history and information that will add to the reader's love, enjoyment and appreciation of wine and sake'.

Questions, requests for topics and comments are always welcome via email: rogerthewineguy@gmail.com.

(Note: The Wine Guy is currently undergoing chemotherapy and this blog will be on hiatus for the duration and into a recovery period. The Wine Guy is planning to celebrate his recovery with a trip to the two wine producing regions in Argentina and that should provide for some interesting new blogs. Meanwhile please enjoy the archives and feel free to email in the interim.)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: Everyman's Everyday Italian Red Wine

Regular readers of Roger’s Grapevine are well acquainted with The Wine Guy’s affinity for both Italian food and Italian wines. While Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello di Montalcino) and Nebbiolo (especially in a good Barolo) will always top my list when asked about my favorite Italian varietals, those are my luxury choices. When it comes to everyday wine, good for pairing with just about any Italian food dish you can name, a must-be-included on the favorites list has to be Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo.

Montepulciano is a high yielding, late harvest grape and the dominant red varietal in the central east coast region of Abruzzo. It produces plump, juicy grapes which somewhat modifies the need for yield reduction in producing good wine. The resultant wines are of deep color with herbal aromas and dark red fruit tastes often touched with a hint of licorice. The tannins are generally softer and suppler and that makes this a very approachable wine for many consumers. While traditionally produced as a wine designed to be drunk quite young, there are many current Montepulciano wines being produced with good age capabilities and characteristics.

The first recorded history of wine made from Montepulciano dates back to 1793 referencing a red wine found near the Abruzzo village of Sulmona. Sulmona is probably better known as the hometown of the Roman poet, Ovid. Commercially cultivated for over 200 years, Montepulciano received its DOC designation as Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo from the Italian authorities in1968. In 1995 an additional designation was granted for Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Colline Teamano (a sub-region in the northern part of Abruzzo) . That wine was gained DOCG status in 2003. The principal differences lie in blending requirements which permit up to 15% Sangiovese in the Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo but only 10% for the latter DOCG. Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo Colline Teamano also requires some aging on wood (notably, it can be either oak or chestnut) as well as an additional year of aging in order to be designated as riserva.

Montepulciano can also be found as a less dominant, but still principal varietal ingredient in wines from the Marches region, just north of Abruzzo. Those wines are Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno. The more renown Vino Nobile d’Montepulciano wine is NOT from this area and is NOT based on the Montepulciano grape. It is rather, a sangiovese-based wine that hails from Montepulciano in Tuscany.

Here are a couple of representations of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that The Wine Guy has enjoyed in the past and that I feel confident in recommending to readers:

Capestrano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo:
This very affordably priced wine is aged in stainless steel and offers a great first entry into the tradition of this grape. It makes a great pasta wine and its soft tannins combine with high reservatrol and antioxidant levels to make it a great sipper for those whose doctors have recommended a regular glass of red wine as part of their cardiac health regimen.

Terra d’ Aligi Tolos Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo:
Produced strictly from old vine Montepulciano grapes, this beauty is typically aged in small French Oak casks for 18 months and then an additional year in the bottle. Here you’ll discover more body and slightly fuller tannins with a lingering finish.

Terra d’Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d’ Abbruzzo:
This wine did 24 months on Slavonic oak with additional bottle aging and has good cellar aging capabilities. The notes of licorice and tobacco sometimes found in Montepulciano become much more pronounced in this wine.

Abruzzo also produces a rose’ (Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo Cerasuolo) which has a very characteristic cherry color and strong red fruit flavors that have warranted some critical acclaim. I’ve yet to encounter this rose’ but have it on my hit list of wines to watch for and try. I would encourage each of you who enjoy Italian cuisine and wines to explore and sample a variety of the offerings of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It’s has a great potential to be everyman’s everyday Italian wine.


  1. Thanks for the information. Very interesting. I live in West Lafayette Indiana, and am having a hard time finding this type of wine. Therefore, I ordered a Montepulciano wine kit. I started it today, we shall see!

  2. Great story of a delicious wine, congrats!