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Garofoli Rosso Conero Piancarda 2010
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture that is virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes are grown just about everywhere throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas. The defining geographical feature of the country is the Apennine Mountain range, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south. The island of Sicily nearly grazes the toe of Italy’s boot, while Sardinia lies to the country’s west. Climate varies significantly throughout the country, with temperature being somewhat more dependent on elevation than latitude, though it is safe to generalize that the south is warmer. Much of the highest quality viticulture takes place on gently rolling, picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but their use is declining in popularity, especially as younger growers begun to take interest in rediscovering forgotten local specialties. Sangiovese is the most widely planted variety in the country, reaching its greatest potential in parts of Tuscany. Nebbiolo is the prized grape of Piedmont in the northwest, producing singular, complex and age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Montepulciano, Trebbiano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course, Pinot Grigio.
Consistently enticing and enjoyable, Montepulciano enjoys great popularity throughout central and southern Italy and is gaining quite a following in many other parts of the world. Widely prolific in its homeland, Montepulciano is actually the second most planted red variety in Italy after Sangiovese, though it is most associated with the region of Abruzzo where it achieves its highest potential. A tiny bit grows in California, Argentina and Australia as well.
In the Glass
Dark and inky, Montepulciano brims with boysenberry, black plum and juicy tart cherry flavors. Typical aromas come in the form of berry pie, freshly cut Italian herbs, dark chocolate and licorice. It’s a full-bodied wine with fine to rustic tannins.
Historically this variety has been one to inhabit many pizzeria and cafe wine lists throughout central and into southern Italy, offering amazing value for everyday consumption. It is no doubt a perfect complement to a variety of other foods we are used to: barbecued brisket, meatloaf, Shepherd’s Pie, meatloaf and grilled portabella mushrooms. Think of it as the perfect alternative to Syrah, Petite Sirah or Malbec if you’re looking to broaden your horizons.
The wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is actually not to be confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is also the name of a village in Tuscany; Sangiovese grows there and is responsible for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The grape called Montepulciano grows in Abruzzo and makes the wine called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.