Sunday, August 27, 2023

Antonio Galloni leads a Tasting of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and the New Pieve

Last month I featured Tuscany, but due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to share my tasting in Boston that I attended at the Boston Winery on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.  The event was called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: The History-Teller sponsored by the Consorzio di Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, promoted by IEEM, and led by Antonio Galloni, wine critic and owner of Vinous.  We tasted an array of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in a variety of styles, so I’ll highlight some of them here today.

Antonio Galloni Vino Nobile di Montepulciano tasting
Myself with Antonio Galloni

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine tasting in Boston

Where is Montepulciano? 

Montepulciano is a medieval town located in southeastern Tuscany between the Valdichiana and Val d’Orcia areas within the province of Siena.   

Palazzo Comunale in Montepulciano
Palazzo Comunale in Montepulciano

The latest two projects of the Consorzio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 

The event was kicked off by Andrea Rossi, President of the Consorzio, who gave an overview of the Montepulciano territory and a couple of the projects that the Consorzio is engaged in at the time.  One of these projects was the Equalitas standard’s sustainability certification that they have received, which took 10 years for them to obtain. They are the first and only, as of last year, Italian wine denomination to receive this certification.  It’s an international forward-thinking organization that is for the wine sector that also certifies the region covering both Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG vineyards and Rosso di Montalcino DOC vineyards.  It has strict regulations at the environmental and socio-economic levels.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine tasting with Antonio Galloni
Left to right: Antonio, Andrea and Mariana (of IEEM)
The other major project for the Consorzio that was pending approval at the time of event, but got approved in August, is the creation of 12 pieve, or zones, that will define the specific terroirs of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano produced from those particular sites within Montepulciano.  The pieve are named after the churches from the past in this area.  It’s a similar concept to the UGA, unita geografiche aggiuntives) that were created in the Chianti Classico region to demonstrate the specific terroirs from their particular territory.  These 12 pieve have varied microclimates, soils, geography, and demonstrate key traits that give these wines the identities and individuality in which they grow.   The new designation will be Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Pieve DOCG and will be considered the pinnacle above the others from this area.  

With the approval of the pieve will also be a change in the percentage of Sangiovese permittedCurrently Vino Nobile di Montepulciano must be a minimum of 70% Prugnolo Gentile, a clone of Sangiovese used in these wines.  Moving forward for the pieve wines, the minimum requirement for Prugnolo Gentile will be 85% with up to 15% allowance of native grapes and no more allowance of international grapes.  Antonio stated that times have changed, and the wines of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are not about power.  They are about finesse and elegance, which I experienced in several of the wines I tasted below. 

The new Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Pieve 

Here are the 12 pieve starting from the north: Ascianello, Badia, CAggiole and GraccianoIn the northeast is Cerliana and in the east is ValianoIn the southeast are the pieve of Argiano and CervognanoWest is the San Biagio pieve finishing in the south at Sant’AlbinoThe grapes will need to be controlled by the producer and grown in that pieve from vineyards that are a minimum of 15 years oldThe wines will require a minimum of 3 years aging, like the current Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva wines. 

Antonio Galloni presents Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The Wines 

Here is a list of some of the wonderful Vino Nobile di Montepulciano I had the opportunity to taste at the eventI’ll be highlighting about half of the list as they were some of my favorites. 

  • 2020 Fattoria della TalosaAlboretoVIno Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG  
  •  2020 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2020 PolizianoAsinone” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Selezione 
  •  2020 Tenuta La Braccesca “La Braccesca” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2020 Tenuta Vadipiatta “Vigna d’Alfiero” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG Selezione 
  •  2020 Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2019 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2020 Marchesi Frescobaldi “Tenuta Calimaia” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2020 Tenute del Cerro “Silineo” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2018 MontemercurioMessaggero” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  •  2018 Villa S. Anna Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wine tasting

Fattoria della Talosa has been owned by Angelo Jacorossi since 1972.  They own about 80 acres that sit at 1,100-1,300 feet above sea level.  The wineries' old wine cellar, Talosa Cellar, dates to the 16th century and is located underground between 2 of the oldest town buildings, Palazzo Sinati and Palazzo Tarugi.  The 2020 Fattoria della TalosaAlboretoVIno Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG I thought was a great introduction to Vino Nobile at a great price point to get familiarity with these wines.  The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese.  The wine was aged 2 years in tonneaux from 2nd, 3rd and 4th passage and 2 more months in stainless steel and large barrel.  The wine spent a year in the bottle before release.    It’s an approachable wine that is medium-bodied with bright acidity with vibrant cherry notes and elegant tannin through the lasting finish.  ABV 14.5% SRP $22.  The wine was suggested to pair with pici pasta and a tuscan ragu. 

I also found the 2018 Villa S. Anna Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG to be another classic expression of Vino Nobile di MontepulcianoVilla S. Anna is an all-woman owned and operated winery run by Simona Ruggeri Fabroni and her daughters Anna and Margherita.  The estate has been around since the 1800’s, but this family started producing Vino Nobile in 1993Prior to 1989 they sold off their grape juice in bulkThey own about 25 acres of vineyards in the village of Abbadia di MontepulcianoTheir 2018 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Mammolo Caniolo, Colorino and Merlot.  The wine showed notes of dried cherries with some tobacco and licorice notes.  A straightforward and rather delicate, but still enjoyable.  ABV 13$ SRP $22.  It’s recommended to pair this wine with traditional Tuscan dishes, game, venison, seasoned cheese and red meat. 

Cantine Dei is a winery I’ve written about when I first started my blogThe winery is located on the east side of Montepulciano and began in 1964 when Alibrando Dei planted the 1st vineyard on the Bossona landIn the 70’s the family expanded their land and released their 1st Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in 1985Today the winery is run by the granddaughter, Caterina Dei, who is also a musician.  The 2020 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo that lends brighter red fruit to the blend.  The aromas were richer compared to the last with aromas of cherry, raspberries and plums.  This wine spends at least 24 months aging with a minimum of 18 months in matured wood.  Medium-bodied with tannins that were firm to start but developed to be silkier in the glass as it sat.  Rich cherry notes with chocolate and spices.  This wine also had a more developed texture than the last as well.  ABV 14.5% SRP $36-40.  This wine was suggested to pair with braised cheek with mashed potatoes. 

Next was the 2020 PolizianoAsinone” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Selezione DOCGI’ve had the privilege to visit Poliziano and taste a number of their wines well before my blogging daysThe winery was founded in 1961 by Dino Carletti initially with 54 acres and has grown to over 640 acres under the son, Federico.  This wine, “Asinone”, comes from one of their single vineyards that contributes to a more complex wine.  Made from 100% Sangiovese, this wine spends 16-18 months in Tonneaux, partly new and part second passage.  Medium-bodied with lively acidity.  This wine has a beautiful balance with notes of cherry and cocoa with vanilla showing up on the finish that is lengthy finishing with a touch of minerality.  ABV 14% SRP $65.  It’s suggested to pair this wine with Bistecca alla Fiorentina.     

Avignonesi is currently owned by Virginie Saverys since 2009She’s a Belgium native who came from a career in law but had the dream and opportunity to move to Tuscany and acquire Avignonesi.  She has a strong belief in sustainability and is one of the largest biodynamic wineries in Italy.  Her aim is produce wines that limit the usage of oak to produce wines that are fresher displaying fruit with vibrant acidity.  Avignonesi owns over 430 acres with plots of land that are all vinified separately before coming together for final blends.  The 2019 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is made from 100% Sangiovese aged at least 18 months in Slavonian oak barrels, oak barriques and tonneaux with at least 6 months in the bottle.  Fresh, sweet berries on the nose of cherries and strawberries.  As Antonio described this wine best it has “an intensity without the weight”.  It felt airy on the palate with a beautiful balance and elegance that showed the purity of fruit of ripe cherries.  A harmonious wine.  ABV 13.5% SRP $28.  It’s suggested to pair this wine with traditional dishes to include prosciutto, pasta, pizza and pecorino.   

Lastly was the 2018 Montemercurio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Messaggero” DOCGMontemercurio was described by Antonio as an “elite artisan estate” with a smaller productionThe grandfather, Damo, planted the vineyards in the 60’s with an original 7.5 aces.  Unfortunately, Damo passed away in 2005, but his family took over established the winery in 2007 and expanded the acreage to about 25 acres selling their first bottle of Vino Nobile in 2011.  Today the winery is led today by Marco today along with the help of his father Maurizio.  The 2018 Vino Nobile is made of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo Nero.  It’s aged for 18 months in 40 hl Slovenian oak and 6 months in 10 hl oak.   

Have you visited this area and what are you some of your favorite producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano? 

You can find other Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines on 


*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from the above site to support the operations of Vino Travels.  

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Rossese: One of Liguria's Top Red Grapes

I’ll be rounding out my features this month on the Emilia Romagna and Liguria wine regions with a focus on the Rossese grape. In the 10 years I’ve been writing Vino Travels I’ve only featured a wine made from this grape once and never really discussed the grape so let’s learn more. 

What is the Rossese grape? 

Rossese is a red grape found in the Liguria region of northwestern Italy bordering France and on the western side of Liguria itself. It is best known for the wines of the Rossese di Dolceaqua DOC. It can be found as single varietal, but also as a blending partner. It is one of the top red grapes of the Liguria wine region along with Dolcetto. It is genetically identical to the French grape, Tibouren, from the Provence area of France where it is mostly produced as a rosé. 

rossese grapes of liguria
Rossese grapes of Maccario Dringenberg
These wines are lighter in body with beautiful fragrant aromatics. They have lively acidity and express a fruit driven profile that is fresh with some pepper and spice notes along with a saline character, influenced by the nearby sea. 

Rossese occupies a small piece of the Ligurian vineyards, only about 200 acres, so production is small and harvesting is challenging on the steep, terraced vineyards. All the work is done by hand as using machinery is not an option due to the structure of the land. It may be a challenge to locate some of these wines, but that makes it all the more fun to try and explore either on a visit to Liguria or if you’re lucky enough to stumble upon a bottle. 

Although I don’t have a specific wine to share this week I’m reverting back to a feature on the native grapes Liguria I wrote a few years back when I shared the 2017 Danila Pisano Rossese di Dolceaqua DOC. 

Next week I’m taking a quick jump back to Toscana since I had some unforeseen circumstances happen and never got to share a virtual tasting I attended in late spring focused on the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano grape hosted by the Consorzio and guest speaker Antonio Galloni.


Friday, August 11, 2023

Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Paired with Emilia Romagna Specialties

When you think about the wines from Emilia Romagna which wines do you think ofPersonally, I think of LambruscoI’m not talking about the low-quality, overproduced, old-school Lambrusco from the 70’s and 80’s that set the negative image for Lambrusco that some may remember today.  Lambrusco has come a long way since those days with various clones of Lambrusco showing different characteristics in the wine and various levels of residual sugars from dry to sweet.  Today I’m going to share a wine from Cantina Settecani from the Grasparossa di Castelvetro area along with a suggested pairing. 

What is Lambrusco? 

Lambrusco is a slightly sparkling, frizzante, red wine grown in the north central region of Emilia RomagnaIt’s a wine that is fresh and meant to be enjoyed young and chilledIt’s typically light to medium-bodied, fruity with soft tannins and medium to high acidityThere are several Lambrusco clones, which all show a different side of LambruscoThe Lambrusco Reggiono DOC is an all-encompassing DOC throughout the regionLambrusco di Sorbara is lighter in color and is more floral and fragrant than the othersLambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro has the most body, color, tannin and richer fruitsLambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce  

You can find Lambrusco produced in a number of sweetness levels from dry (secco), semi-dry (semisecco), semi-sweet (amabile) and sweet (dolce). It’s all personal preference, but the Lambrusco of today is known for their drier style versions versus those of the sweet styles of the past.  

The Winery – Settecani 

Settecani is a cooperative in the Emilia Romagna region founded in 1923 by 48 farmers. Today the coop is comprised of over 200 farmers mostly from the areas of Castelvetro, Castelnuovo Rangone and Spilamberto. The winery is located south of Modena in the village of Settecani, from which it takes its name. Legend has it that the name Settecani derives from a time when a priest transformed 7 men into dogs that were using the lords name in vain.  

Cantina Settecani winery in Castelvetro
Cantina Settecani

The farmers pay strong attention to producing sustainable wines and in 2016 became certified through VIVA, viticulture impact assessment on the environment. These farmers not only produce grapes, but take care of livestock, pigs, fruits and vegetables to produce many of the treats from this region like parmeggiano and prosciutto. They live and breathe in the fields in which they work and live so it's important to these growers to take care of the land.  

Settecani grows grapes on over 740 acres of land with each grower tending to about 3.5-4 acres more or less. On average most of the vineyards sit at about 980 feet above sea level. They produce only sparkling wines, and their main production of Lambrusco is based on Lambrusco Grasparosso di Castelvetro, but they do work with some of the other Lambrusco clones. 

What is unique about the Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro? 

The Lambrusco Grasparossa grapes that are used in the production for the Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC are grown a few miles south of Modena around the town of Castelvetro. Thirteen communes make up this DOC on flat land that is rich in minerals and is rather fertile. The Lambrusco Grasparossa grapes produce Lambrusco that carry more color in the glass, more tannin with a higher alcohol, a fuller body and darker fruits. They tend to be more purple in color and can carry aromas of strawberries, black cherries, plums and violets. One of the regulations to be labeled under this DOC is that the wine must consist of at least 85% of the Lambrusco Grasparossa grapes with up to 15% of the other Lambrusco varieties along with Malbo Gentile.  

The Wine 

Since I never have time to prepare too far in advance for these posts, I ran to the local liquor store and didn’t have too much selection when I wanted to choose a Lambrusco. I saw one at Trader Joe’s recently, but decided to forego it as I wanted one from one of the DOCs. My only option at this liquor store was Riunite, a hard no, and my selection of the Cantina Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro. I was glad this was an option as I wanted the Lambrusco Grasparossa in particular for its body and fruit along with some tannin. I was hoping for a secco or semisecco, but this version was an amabile.  

Although I didn’t find the tech sheet on this wine, I did find a video where the winemaker mentions that this wine spends a passage in cement tanks to create balance in the wine. They use the charmat method, or known as tank method, which is where the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. You can read my previous article on the charmat method in comparison with metodo classico. 

The Cantina Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC Amabile is ruby in color with purplish hues. The aromas lean towards a grapey nose with blueberry jam, ripe raspberries and violets. This was a very lightly sparkling wine that had a medium acidity giving the wine a tingle until the finish. A round sweetness on the palate of grape, blueberries and blackberries. Soft tannins near the short finish. Overall a refreshing wine and a perfect sipper if you like a tinge of sweetness and bubbles. ABV 8%, SRP $12.99 

Cantina Settecani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC Amabile

What food should I pair with Lambrusco? 

Emilia Romagna is one of the most gastronomic places throughout Italy, but of course each region in Italy all has their own specialties that are unique to each regionIn the states we enjoy many of the culinary delights of Emilia Romagna including Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, and authentic balsamic vinegar di Modena (aceto balsamico di Modena)There is also an abundance of pork and sausage in dishes such as cotechino, which is a slow cooked sausage, and zampone, a pig hoof stuffed with sausage. 

Emilia Romagna is also known for many pasta dishes produced from pasta sfoglia, hand-rolled dough made from eggs and flourPasta sfoglia is used to create some of Emilia Romagna’s well-known pasta dishes such as lasagne, tortellini, tagliatelle, ravioli and cappelletti from the region. 

The nice thing about Lambrusco is the variety of styles that are produced from the various clones and terroirs that allow it to pair with a variety dishesLambrusco goes fantastic with a charcuterie (throw in some figs), but you can also pair it with pizzaFor Lambrusco that is more aromatic, like Lambrusco di Sorbara, you can pair it with spicy foods.  Heavier dishes and fattier meats will stand up better to Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro.   

I enjoyed a nice pre-meal drink and pairing, or aperitivo as the Italians say, with the Cantina Setticani Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro and bread topped with prosciutto and a bit of parmigiano reggiano dabbled with some aceto balsamico tradizionale di Modena that I bought from Acetaia di Giorgio when I visited them.  The saltiness of the prosciutto and parmigiano reggiano balanced nicely with the sweetness in the wine. It made it even more enjoyable! They were the perfect balance in body to one another.

food and wine pairing with Lambrusco Grasparossa
They always say, “what grows together goes together” and it's so true as you travel throughout all the regions of ItalyI always eat and drink whatever originates from the region in which I am visitingI’m not sure if the wine was made for the food or the food was made for the wine, but in many of the regions they create perfect harmony. 

You can find other Lambrusco wines on  This wine is imported by Monsieur Touton.


*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from the above site to support the operations of Vino Travels.