A few months ago I wrote about the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, a region in southeastern Tuscany that produces wine made primarily from a clone of the Sangiovese grape called Prugnolo or Prugnolo Gentile. This DOCG region also has a younger brother (or sister), called the Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. The Rosso region shares the same geographical area and the same primary grape as the Vino Nobile region, but differs slightly in the way the grapes are grown and how it is produced, mainly in the fact that it needs to be aged for a shorter period of time. The Rosso region, which has been around since 1989, complements the Vino Nobile region perfectly, something that is very intentional. Since the grapes and geography are the same, but the aging time, designation, and reputation are all a bit lower for the Rosso wines, the region gives winemakers in the area the ability to be more selective about the grapes they use for the Vino Nobile DOCG. If a vineyard site or a particular growing season produces grapes that aren’t quite up to the standard of the Vino Nobile DOCG, they can be made into the Rosso DOC. This allows for both wine regions to have more consistency and keeps producers from relying too heavily on one type of wine to make their living. This set up is also seen in two wine regions to the west, surrounding the town of Montalcino: the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and the Rosso di Montalcino DOC.
The Rosso di Montepulciano region is centered around the town of Montepulciano, in southeastern Tuscany. The wine region extends a little further southeast of the town so that it bumps right up against the border with Umbria. As I mentioned when describing the Vino Nobile region, one of the confusing things about these two regions is that the town for which they are named shares its name with a prominent grape from eastern Italy, known for being the primary grape in the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC. Somewhat confusingly, the town and the grape seem to have no connection to one another, and the Montepulciano grape does not appear in the Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. Wines from the Rosso di Montepulciano DOC must be made up of at least 70% Prugnolo (which I’m labeling as Sangiovese, for simplicity sake), and can be rounded out with up to 20% Canaiolo and up to 20% other red grapes such as Mammolo (a local variety), Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Rosso region, since it is generally younger than it’s big brother, is often much softer and fruiter, with a very approachable red-fruit profile. This particular wine, from the producer Tenuta Valdipiatta, has a clear, ruby red appearance. It is fairly aromatic, with a nice intensity to the nose and notes of bright red fruits, strawberry, red cherry, and a bit of jamminess. On the palate it is dry, with a medium acidity and medium tannins, which are smooth and rather subtle. Though a full bodied wine, clocking in at 14% ABV, it is not overpowering. There are more red fruit flavors, primarily red cherry and strawberry, as well as some blackberry and a little black pepper spice. The finished is nice without have a lot of length, winding down with some cherry and black pepper. Overall this wine feels young and lively, and is very fruit forward. That, along with the nice balance of acidity and tannins, makes it a great easy drinking, everyday wine.