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Carl Hudson
 
October 23, 2019 | Wine Varietals | Carl Hudson

Montepulciano - 4.0 Cellars Italian Style 2019

A new release Montepulciano from Lost Oak Winery is now being featured in the 4.0 Cellars Tasting Room.  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, for example, 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 warm, sun-filled growing season in Texas.  Although the grapes are plump with a low skin to juice ratio, the skins have lots of pigment, and 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 only, 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 Lost Oak Winery Montepulciano 2017 carries a Texas High Plains AVA designation.  The wine is a blend of Montepulciano grapes (89%) sourced from Krick Hill Vineyards located near the town of Levelland in Hockley County, and Ruby Cabernet grapes (11%) sourced from Bingham Family Vineyards located near the town of Meadow in Terry County.  After fermentation in stainless steel tank, the wine received limited oak treatment to enhance the flavor and overall character.  With 12.7% ABV, this dry 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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