While there are many excellent tasting rooms and wine cellars in the historic town of Montepulciano itself, I wanted to experience an “authentic wine cellar tour” in the heartland of the famed Vino Nobile wine growing region.
As there are over 72 bottlers in the Montepulciano wine consortium, who better to ask for a winery recommendation than the hostess at The Consorzio del Vino Montepulciano? As hoped, the hostess was more than happy to arrange a same day, private cellar tour and wine tasting at a boutique winery called Tenuta Valdipiatta, just outside the medieval walled town.
Roughly translated, Tenuta Valdipiatta means Estate in the Flat Valley….in other words, miles of wide-open rows of gorgeous Sangiovese grapes! Several winding roads later, our GPS led us down a long dusty dirt road toward Tenuta Valdipiatta in the wine-growing area known as Gracciano.
True to form, like most wineries in California, we were immediately greeted by several large, but very friendly dogs! Our hosts, and owners, the Caporali’s were on hand to meet us and to introduce us to our lovely and knowledgeable English-speaking guide.
Eager to have a peek at our first Italian wine cave, we happily followed our guide across the path that led toward the stone cellar dug into the massive hillside. The sweet fruity scent of fermenting grapes permeated the air. We passed by the modern sorting and crushing machinery that was recently used for the fall harvest, gazed up at gigantic shiny stainless steel vats used for fermentation and then, finally, with great anticipation, the 15-foot weathered medieval looking wooden doors to the ancient wine cellar were opened!
The wine cellar was absolutely glorious!!! Rows of old oak barrels lined the cellar walls, many filled with the coveted Vino Nobile which matures in the oak barrels for two years before bottling. Indeed, Tenuta Valdipiatta is real “gem” — a mid-sized family-owned estate winery on 84 acres that proudly produces around 100,000 bottles each year of the famed Vino Nobile, Rosso di Montepulciano, and Trefonti, a delightful table wine which is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and other local grapes. The estate also produces a fine extra-virgin olive oil.
The wine tasting fees were minimal and the wines were quite excellent–especially the 2004 Vigna D’Alfiero (Vino Nobile), the 2009 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the 2000 Trefonti all which were shipped to me in California for a nominal cost. For more information, visit www.valdipiatta.it