So what’s in a name? The name, Vino Nobile, refers to a “noble” wine of great quality and dates back to the mid-18th century. Vino Nobile was considered the prize wine of many aristocratic families in the Montepulciano area, so hence its name. In 1828, Giuseppe Contucci, one of the fore fathers of the promotion of Vino Nobile, sparked international interest in the Italian and foreign wine markets.
The Contucci Palace is located in the Piazza Grande and is a stellar example of Renaissance period architecture. The Contucci Palace wine cellars are the only wine cellars in the historic centro of Montepulciano that houses a full working wine production facility. Visitors can tour the cellars and then visit the fantastic wine shop, Contucci Cantina, located on the first floor of the magnificent Contucci Palace. The wine tasting list is extensive, and the wines are superb! One of my favorite wines is the 2008 Mulinvecchio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Unbeknownst to many, the wine industry throughout Italy is highly regulated by the Italian government. Strict rules regarding the planting of the vines, the spacing and number of the vines, direction of the vines planted and the type of grape varietals planted, must be followed precisely.
In order to be called a Vino Nobile, there must be at least 70% Prugnolo gentile grape, which is a clone of the Sangiovese grosso grape, and up to 20% Canaiolo nero, or other red varietal grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Nero. White grapes are sometimes used in the making of Vino Nobile to add aromatic notes to the blend and are limited in use to 10% maximum. Vino Nobile can only be sold after ageing in the bottle for two years (or aged for three years in the bottle for Vino Nobile Riserva) and again, must pass rigorous testing. Vinification and ageing must also take place within the municipal area of Montepulciano.
Vino Nobile became the first wine to earn the recognition of Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), which is only given to the best quality wines in Italy. Exceptional Vino Nobile vintages include 1958, 1970, 1975, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1997, 2006 and 2007. For more information about Vino Nobile and other wines of Montepulciano, www.consorziovinonobile.it