Friday, February 18, 2022

What's the Difference: Montepulciano of Abruzzo and Montepulciano in Tuscany?

Between finally getting over covid the last couple weeks and recovering from the congestion, I've yet to have some wine that I could taste to share with you all.  I figured this was a perfect time to share some practical information on Italian wine that you may find useful.

Have you ever been in the market for Italian wine and noticed there are red wines named Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and also wines named Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or even Rosso di Montepulciano?  What is the difference between these two wines since they both are labeled with Montepulciano?  There is actually quite the difference between them so let's dig in.

Montepulciano from Abruzzo

Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines hail from the region of Abruzzo located in central Italy on the eastern coastline along the Adriatic.  The grape that primarily makes up these wines are based on the Montepulciano grape.  This is a native red grape to the Abruzzo wine region and is found as a baseline in many of the red wines of this area.  

Abruzzo wine region with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC
Copyright of Federdoc

Montepulciano is a thick-skinned grape that needs the right climate and is a late harvesting wine as well.  It produces wines that are deeply ruby colored, fuller bodied with a higher alcohol and tannin profile.  You'll notice more red fruit notes in these wines as well.  

The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo DOC appellation was the first DOC in Abruzzo established back in 1968.  It encompasses a vast part of the region so there is much variation in the styles of wines from producer to producer.  Some of the best are going to show much more complexities leaning towards a fuller body with higher alcohol and tannins present.  This DOC spans from the coastline and hills from the Marche region in the north to Molise in the south.  The wines produced under this DOC must be a minimum of 85% Montepulciano.

Here are some prior posts featuring some Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wines:

Montepulciano in Tuscany
Now what does that mean for those labeled Vino Nobile di Montepulciano or Rosso di Montepulciano?  So much so that we're in a totally different region into Tuscany.  These wines also aren't even based on the Montepulciano grape.  They are based on Sangiovese.  

Montepulciano is such a great Tuscan town that I've had the privilege to visit a few times now.  It's a medieval hilltop Tuscan town located in the southern part of Tuscany in the province of Siena.  The wines span mostly around the town of Montepulciano on the western side of the area, but are separated by the eastern part of Valiano by the Val di Chiana.  
Town of Montepulciano in Tuscany
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG wines and the lesser stringent restrictions of the Rosso di Montepulciano DOC, are primarily based on the Sangiovese grape, also known as Prugnolo Gentile, requiring a minimum of 70%.  

As you can see we are talking two different regions, two different grapes, and two very different wines both great in their own way.  Check out some of my prior posts on wines from Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Pinot Nero is in Abundance in the Oltrepo Pavese

This month for our theme for our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) is hosted by Susannah of Vigneto Communications as she takes us to the Oltrepo Pavese wine appellation in Lombardy. When one thinks of the great wine regions of Italy I’m sure the Lombardy wine region isn’t the first that comes to mind. If you’re a fan of pinot noir the Oltrepo Pavese is a region that one must seek out as it hosts one of the largest areas under vine for Pinot Nero.  

Map of Lombardy wine region
Map of Lombardy wine region ~ copyright of Federdoc

The Area ~ Oltrepo Pavese 

The Oltrepo Pavese is located along the 45th parallel where you also find the great wine regions of the world producing Pinot Noir including Burgundy and Oregon. It’s influenced by the Mediterranean climate of the Ligurian Sea to its south and the continental climate of the Po River and mountains in Piedmont. There are over 32,000 acres under vine with over 160 producers and 1,300 growers.  

Outside of Italy, the Oltrepo Pavese is also the third largest area for Pinot Nero in Europe after Champagne and Burgundy. It has been growing there since the 1800’s. The wine produced in the Oltrepo Pavese occupies 60% of Lombardy’s total wine production, but almost half of it is kept within Italy. Its primary grapes found throughout the area are Pinot Nero, Riesling, Bonarda and Croatina that may be blended with some other native varietals.  

The Winery ~ Ca’ Di Frara 

The Ca’ Di Frara winery is the local dialect for Casa Ferrari, named after the small hamlet where it is located near Mornico Losana. The winery was founded back in 1905 by the great grandfather, Giovanni Bellani, of today’s 3rd generation family member that runs the winery today, Luca, along with the assistance of his brother Matteo. The winery is set in the hillsides receiving mild winters with warm and windy summer temperatures.  

Luca Bellani of Ca' Di Frara
Luca Bellani ~ copyright of Ca' Di Frara

There are a few types of soils where the grapes of Ca’ Di Frara are grown. Those grown in the Mornico area are high in clay, which assist with color and deeper aromas and flavors. This is where their Pinot Nero, Croatina and Barbera are grown. In the Oliva Gessi area the soils are comprised of chalk and limestone where their Pinot Grigio, Riesling and Pinot Nero for their sparkling wines are grown. 

Ca' Di Frara winery
Ca' Di Frara ~ copyright of Ca' Di Frara
The Wine 

The 2018 Ca’ Di Frara Losana Pinot Nero dell’ Oltrepo Pavese DOC wine is made from 100% Pinot Nero. The general Oltrepo Pavese DOC was established in 1970 until there was a further breakdown of other specific varietals in later years including the Pinot Nero dell’ Oltrepo Pavese DOC in 2010. Wines from this DOC require at least 95% Pinot Nero. The wine spends 12 months in barrique with an additional 12 months in the bottle. The wine was deep ruby colored in the glass with garnet hues. A fresh bouquet of ripe raspberries on the nose with a hint of cocoa. This Pinot Nero was different than what I’ve typically been used to when it comes to pinot noir as I found it quite earthy. I was surprised by some of the firm tannin on this wine up front with lingering acidity in the back showing notes of raspberry and cherry. ABV 13.5% 

2018 Ca’ Di Frara Losana Pinot Nero dell’ Oltrepo Pavese DOC

I also have a sparkling wine from this area that I received to sample, but due to getting sick this week I’ll will have to delay in trying it until I’m back to normal.  

Join us for a live chat on Twitter this Saturday at #ItalianFWT @ 11:00 am EST. In the meantime join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers as they take you through their journey to the Oltrepo Pavese. Have a great weekend! 

  • Payal of Keep the Peas shares “Just Now Discovering Oltrepò Pavese 
  • Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla adds Second Pours of Oltrepò Pavese Wines with Braised Short Ribs and Puff Pastry” 
  • Linda from My Full Wineglass brings “Flying under the radar with an Oltrepò Pavese sparkling rosé” 
  • Terri from My Good Life dishes about “Stone Crabs with Oltrepò Pavese.” 
  • Martin from Enofylz showcases “A Taste Of The Unsung Wines of Oltrepò Pavese” 
  • Deanna from Winevore posts “Wine for the Priest! from Oltrepo Pavese, Italy” 
  • Jeff from Food Wine Click! waxes about the “Surprising Wines of Oltrepò Pavese” 
  • Rupal from Syrah Queen post “Oltrepò Pavese Wines -One of Italy’s Best Kept Secret” 
  • Gwendolyn from Wine Predator showcases “2 Pinot Nero from Oltrepo’ Pavese #ItalianFWT” 
  • David from Cooking Chat reflects on “Tasting and Pairing with Oltrepo’ Pavese Wines” 
  • Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm checks out “Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna paired with Oltrepo Pavese Wine” 
  • Liz from What’s In that Bottle suggests we “Check Out “the Other Side of the Pó” for Tasty Italian Wines “ 
  • Lisa from The Wine Chef writes “Off The Beaten Path: Oltrepò Pavese, A Wine Region to Know About.” 
  • Susannah from Avvinare, writes about “Wine Treasures To Be Found in Oltrepò Pavese.'”

*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are always my own.