Friday, April 29, 2022

Vino Travels Celebrates 9 Years with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

This month Vino Travels celebrates its 9 year anniversary!  It's hard to believe it's been 9 years since I started my journey dedicated to learn more about wine and the wine journey still continues on.  Although the focus still remains on Italian wine, as my readers know I'll occasionally break off and share wines from around the world.  The more you know the more you grow!   

I appreciate all the continued support from my readers that have stayed with me motivating me to continue on. Although I haven't been to a live wine tasting in years due to Covid, I hope I'll be able soon to increase the breadth of Italian wines that I can share with you as time goes on.   

To celebrate this year's anniversary I decided to see what I had sitting around from my travels to Italy that I have brought home from years passed and I decided to open a bottle of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano from Azienda Agricola Ercolani. This winery is located in the town of Montepulciano, which is in the southeast corner of Tuscany also bordering the Umbria region.  

This area holds Etruscan origins and Vino Nobile was a wine enjoyed since Roman Times and whose name was established by the “nobleman” of those that enjoyed it during those times. The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG was one of the first DOCs to get elevated to DOCG in 1980. The territory primarily resides around Montepulciano, but also extends east to Valiano. 

The Territory ~ Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The wines under the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG must be comprised of at least 70% Sangiovese, which in this area is also known as Prugnolo Gentile. There is an allowance of up to 30% of other Tuscan grapes such as Canaiolo, Mammolo, Colorino, etc but many producers produce their wines with a heavier percentage of Prugnolo Gentile. The wines must be at least 12.5% alcohol and age at least 24 months with at least 12 of those months spent in wood. For wines like the Riserva that I’m sharing today, there is an increased minimum requirement of alcohol from 13% with extended aging to 36 months with 12 of those months spent in wood and 6 months in the bottle. 

The Winery ~ Ercolani

Azienda Agricola Ercolani and the family’s history in winemaking dates back to the 1940’s with the great grandfather Ercolani, but the winery was officially established in 1988. Their estate occupies 370 acres of land of which 34 acres are dedicated to vines and the rest is shared with crops, sheep, truffles and olives.  

Montepulciano is a beautiful medieval town with quite a steep hill to walk up when visiting, but take the time to meander through the small alleyways and quaint shops on your way up to Piazza Grande. There is an underground city within Montepulciano and was what originally attracted me to purchasing this wine as I visited their cellar and shops in wandering throughout the town. Beneath the palaces underground you descend into tunnels and passageways and where the Ercolani cellars are located there are also ancient Etruscan tombs, wells, fountains and where the Ghibellines found refuge. Quite neat to check out! 

underground wine cellars of Montepulciano

The Wine

The 2009 Apostoli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva is grown on south facing vineyards that are said to be one of the oldest vineyards in Montepulciano located under the monastery of the Apostoli  located 1,300 feet above sea level. Although I couldn’t locate the technical sheet on this particular wine as their website only goes back to the 2012 vintage it seemed that many of the vintages spent 2 years in large Slavonian oak barrels and 1 additional year in Slavonian tonneaux and 1 year in the bottle.  

This wine was deeply garnet color with brick hues towards the edge. A very earthy, rustic nose with aromas of cherry and lots of green olive that also carried through to the palate. A dry, medium-bodied wine with firm tannins still holding on along with the acidity lasting through to a lengthy finish.

Ercolani recommends these wines with pecorino and goat cheeses, cold cuts, egg pasta with wild boar (one of my favorites), game meat including pot roast, roast lamb or pork along with truffle based dishes. Now if only I had time to prepare one of those this week, but I personally love drinking a bottle on its own and appreciating all the nuances.  

2009 Apostoli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva

Please reach don't be afraid to reach out and share what you'd like to see more of, what you enjoy or just to say hi so I know you're out there.  I love hearing from readers!  You can reach me at vinotravels at hotmail dot com.   

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