As the summer heats up and the humidity kicks in, this may be one of the last red wines for a little while, except maybe for one or two of the handful of reds that are even better when chilled (one of those in a later post). This wine is from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, a region that is almost as ubiquitous in American wine shops as Chianti, but that’s not necessarily a knock against it. Most will go for under $20 and serve as perfect weekday wines – simple (in a good way), easy drinking, unpretentious, and great with a classic Italian meal, be it pasta with red sauce or a meat dish.
The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC dates back to 1968, when it was created to cover Montepulciano-based wines produced up and down all 75 miles of the Abruzzi (Abruzzi in English, Abruzzo in Italian) coast. But Abruzzi, on Italy’s east coast between Marche (north) and Molise (south), has been producing Montepulciano wines since at least the middle of the 18th century. It is the most commonly grown red grape in the region, and is really what puts Abruzzi on the international wine map for many consumers. In 2003, a section of the region was given DOCG status, which I covered in one of my first posts, called the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane DOCG. Though this grape may or may not be named after the town of the same name in Tuscay (see the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG), there is no connection today between the two. Like Chianti, there are five sub-regions that can appear on labels if the wine is produced from grapes grown in the region. They are Alto Tirino, Casauria, Teate, Terre dei Peligni and Terre dei Vestini.
Montepulciano is one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy; at the start of the 21st century only Sangiovese was planted more than Montepulciano. Abruzzi, along with it’s neighbors Marche and Molise, is the most common place to find the grape, but it is found in red-wine appellations in central and southern Italy as well (not as much in the north). It also produces one of the regions most well known rose wines, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. Wines produced in the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC must be made from at least 85% Montepulciano, while the remaining 15% of the blend may be made up of Sangiovese. However, wines from the sub-regions Casauria and Terre dei Vestini must be 100% Montepulciano.
This wine comes from the producer Umani Ronchi and lives up to everything you’d expect from a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. It is called Podere and is made from 100% Montepulciano. It has a clear, ruby red coloring to it. The nose has medium intensity and carries notes of red fruit notes, led by cherry and followed by some raspberry and plum, along with notes of spice and a hint of coffee. Smelling it reminders me of an old Italian shop in Boston’s North End. The palate has medium acidity and tannins, which are nice and soft. Cherry again dominates on the palate, followed by other red fruits and some spices. It’s finish is nice and soft, medium in length. It’s simple and easy drinking, just as it’s meant to be.