The Curious Case of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

OK, after me. Mon – tuh – pull – cha – noh. (Hold the ‘a’ in ‘cha’ for effect, and to convince everyone you’ve a true grasp of the lingo.)
Now, dah – broots – oh.
As Italy’s number one DOC export, it’s probably one of the most recognisable old world wines there is, but it is a bit of a mouthful.

The ‘Montepulciano’ bit is both a grape and a small town in southern Tuscany, the ‘Abruzzo’ the mountainous region extending to the Adriatic across the middle of Italy.
Montepulciano the grape is a prolific red variety, notable for producing two distinct styles of wine – one, a light-to-medium fruity style designed for drinking young (exactly like our Farnese DOC), and the other a more austere, deep coloured wine with ripe, robust tannins (exactly like our Farnese DOCG).
At its worst, Montepulciano makes a great blending wine, and is a permitted variety in 20 of Italy’s 95 provinces. At its best, in particular in the Abruzzo, it produces wines rich in local character and flavours, from wild fruit, to herbs, to gamey influences.
To address issues of over-production and inconsistency, 2003 saw the introduction of Abruzzo’s first DOCG – the higher level regulation on wine production, standing for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane, for Montepulciano grown in the optimal hillside sites around Teramo in northern Abruzzo. Farnese’s DOCG is a testament to this intent, acclaimed by Robert Parker as “one to buy by the car-load”.
Abruzzo is a hot-bed of tradition and great cuisine, and is famed for its strong flavours and use of spice in its cured meats and recipes. The mountainous terrain makes lamb the meat of choice, and pecorino, from sheep’s milk, the favoured cheese. Peperoncino, a hot chilli pepper, is a local favourite and a key ingredient in agnello all’arrabbiata or ‘angry lamb’.
This array of rich and spicy food suit our Montepulcianos to perfection. Acidity, spice, fruitiness and soft tannins that just melt with a forkful of lamb or a slice of pecorino.
So next time you go Italian, look beyond the Chianti and try a mouthful of Dah-broots-oh.
Farnese’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC is a Curious Pick for March – buy two for €8.49 each, saving €3.


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