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Carl Hudson
 
September 28, 2016 | Wine Varietals | Carl Hudson

Montepulciano - 4.0 Cellars Italian Style

A Montepulciano is featured in the September, 2016, 4.0 Cellars Wine Club release.  The wine was made at Brennan Vineyards in Comanche, TX, and is marketed under the 4.0 Cellars label.  Montepulciano is the second most planted red grape varietal in Italy.  It is growing in popularity in Texas, too.  Montepulciano is believed to have originated in the Tuscany region of Italy, but today is mostly found in the regions of Marche and Abruzzo located to the east of Tuscany, across the Appenine Mountain range.  Because of its tolerance to heat and dry conditions, Montepulciano is generating interest from Texas winegrowers ranging from the Hill Country to the High Plains. 

Montepulciano tends to ripen relatively late in the season, but also buds later in the spring (than, say, Tempranillo), thus minimizing concerns over early frost damage.  It can produce wines with good color, adequate acidity and significant levels of alcohol and flavor extraction.  If harvested early or not completely ripened, Montepulciano can make wines that are overly “green” and unpleasant.  But this is rarely an issue with the long, hot growing season in Texas.  Although the grapes are plump with a low skin to juice ratio, the skins have lots of pigment that translates to a darker color in the finished wine.  An advantage of the low skin to juice ratio is relatively mild tannins that give Montepulciano a softer, somewhat mellower finish than many other “big” red wines. 

The name Montepulciano has led to some confusion in the wine world.  The famous wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, is made from Sangiovese grapes, and is named for the Tuscan village in which it is produced, not for the grape variety used.  Montepulciano, on the other hand, is the primary grape used in the traditional wines of neighboring Abruzzo and Marche regions which are mostly blends of Montepulciano and Sangiovese.  Scientific studies have not shown a close connection between Sangiovese and Montepulciano, even though it is believed both varieties originated in Tuscany.  In Texas, Montepulciano is often blended with other grapes, but is growing in popularity as a stand-alone varietal wine. 

The 4.0 Cellars Montepulciano 2015 carries a Texas High Plains AVA designation.  It was produced by Todd Webster, wine maker at Brennan Vineyards, for sale at 4.0 Cellars.  The grapes, 100% Montepulciano, were sourced from Jet Wilmeth’s Diamante Doble Vyd in Tokio, TX (west of Brownfield in Terry County).  After fermentation in stainless steel tank, the wine did receive limited oak treatment to enhance the flavor and overall character.  A total of 415 cases were bottled at 13.3% ABV, pH 3.65, (DRY).  The wine is elegant & well-structured with aromas of black cherry, red flowers, smoked meat, leather and earth.  On the palate, one finds flavors of red cherry, tobacco and cocoa powder.  The wine provides a lingering finish with good acidity and fruit balance, plus slightly grippy tannins – delightful for pairing with tomato-sauced pasta or pizza.  It is Italian, after all.  

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