In 2010, we were lucky enough to take a dream vacation to a villa in Tuscany – a week of eating, drinking and exploring the small towns and beautiful countryside of Italy’s most famous* vacation destination. It was as great as it sounds, and of course grows in stature in my memory every day since.
Unsurprisingly, we drank a lot of wine during the trip, almost all of it Tuscan. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was the particular wine we consumed the most often, for several reasons:
- I’d never had it before.
- It is part of the “Big 3″ Tuscan wine zones, yet far less well known or accessible in the states than the others, Chianti and Brunello. Though I love Chianti, it is widely accessible here. Brunello is also great, but it is very expensive here, and considered best when aged at least 10 years (something we were unable to pull off during our week-long stay).
- Our villa was about 25 minutes from the town Montepulciano (Relax, TwiHards).
- We visited a great winery in the Montepulciano region called Le Berne.
Most importantly, I immediately fell in love with this wine. It has a great sense of place, highlighting the dark cherry fruits of Sangiovese (the base grape for all 3 Tuscan wines), but also carrying great earthy notes of leather and mushroom. In addition, it tends to be a little fuller than Chianti, with slightly less acidity and a softer mouthfeel. It has potential for medium-term aging, but is also very accessible young.
Unfortunately, living in PA, even with my new-found knowledge and love of this wine, procuring some upon our arrival home became somewhat difficult. The PA system only listed a handful, and only one was available in a nearby store. IIRC, none were available online at that time. (Now that I am hip to other online options, it is a bit easier, but still requires some extra effort.)
So, as can be imagined, I was ecstatic when I saw that the Chairman’s Selection program was bringing in a Vino Nobile this fall. Though I hadn’t tried this particular wine, it was priced insanely low at $15 (the first Vino Nobile I’d ever seen under $20 in the US – hopefully not too good to be true), and would be widely available.
Truth be told, this is not one of the finer Vino Nobiles that I have had, but it is still a great deal at $15, and thus a great way to try this particular wine if you have never had it before.
The aroma of this wine is dominated by mushroom & earth, with notes of leather and dark (almost candied) cherries. Palate shows more cherry & kirsch-like flavor, with just a bit of earth. Tannins are soft, chalky and chewy on the finish. I would decant this wine for about 15-20 minutes – it does take to a little air, but also fades rather quickly, so avoid anything longer.
Cantina del Bueno Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008
Grape: Sangiovese (at least 70%)
PA Price: $14.99
Find it in stores
*I’m sure somebody will disagree with this comment, but it is certainly arguable that Tuscany is Italy’s most famous vacation destination. Sure, Rome (my favorite city in Italy), Amalfi Coast, and Venice also warrant consideration