The first 40 years of DOCG for Nobile di Montepulciano

Filippo Bartolotta

Tucked in the heart of Tuscany, Montepulciano is one of the most gorgeous hilltop villages in Italy with an Etruscan foundation based back 2500 years ago. If one had to travel there alone, it will be the perfect spot to get lost in beautiful inspiring walks. Should you go there with a loving partner instead, be carful as you might end up proposing for the romance of its landscapes!

Here is where also Italy first ever DOCG (the Italian trade mark system for wines) wine was appointed in 1980: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. An elegant red with a very ancient tradition, loads of very generous red and black berries, some balsamic action and a very round finish.

Palazzo Contucci


Last week Montepulciano presented the new 2017 vintage of Nobile and the 2016 Nobile Riserva.  @divinavitale @traveltheboot @lelegobbi and I tasted them all…for ya!

The 2017 has been a really hot and dry vintage and this brought a lot of heat in the vineyards which in turn got into the berries and in the glass. Expect high alcoholic wines, with some very mature fruit and a pretty powerful structure. Sometimes there’s a little bit of astringency which make the wines a little less noble they should be.

The Riserva 2016 is a totally different ball park with way more elegance, length, refined touch and longevity. It is for me the best vintage Nobile di Montepulciano has ever had, with most wine makers releasing very serious wines! But now, enjoy now or keep them safe in a cool cellar for 10.15 years and they will reward with great surprises.

Actually some of these wines can age really well indeed as a very interesting vertical tasting conducted by one of Italy’s most experienced wine critic Daniele Cernilli  next to a knowledgable and lively Adua Villa, has proven so showing 10 wines from 1979 to today.

Nobile Contucci

Nobile di Montepulciano Contucci 1979 was one of my favorite. Really closed and dirty for the first 30 minutes I was really disappointed. But then: boom! Refined aromas of dry violets and blood orange with a moss and licorice character. Medicinal herbs, leather, pomegranet and witch broom with a really gun flinty nose, sweet tannins and juice made my day”. This guys own one of the most beautiful wineries on mother earth with a 1500th monumental vaults. Their 2015 Riserva and single vineyards this year have proven how Contucci is back in the wine map leading steadily the quality mark of this appellation.

Nobile di Montepulciano Poliziano 1990 was my other favorite wine of the tasting. A lot of wine lovers know Poliziano for its success of the late ’90s with pretty bold and extractive wines. Well this 1990 smelled like mountain strawberries, vanilla and bay leaf. I love the rusty and dry petals notes with a candied lemon peel, and so much salinity and an aging potential to last for another 20 years! Today this is one of Italy’s most modern and organized winery and their style has become even more elegant then ever. Their Nobile 2017 was one of my favorite sample of this very difficult vintage. 

Nobile Riserva 1988 Boscarelli was a little overripe with the fruit and had some tough tannins. My feeling was the it wasn’t a lucky bottle as this is one of the bench mark Nobile for its consistency, clean fruit, elegant and articulated style. Even in the most difficult vintages they always deliver! 

Gracciano della Seta 1995 and Tenuta Valdipiatta 1998 seemed pretty young with some alive and kicking tannins, while Dei 2001 and Le Berne 2005 had a very concentrated black driven fruit and some serious tannic structure. These two well established wineries have been making high quality wines for quite some times, but in the last 5, 6 years they have both moved towards Nobile with greater transparency and finesse then ever!

2010 Bindella I Quadri selection in a way could represent this ove towards elegance which the entire appellation has chosen to go for.

La Braccesca 2017, Antinori  estate in Montepulciano, with its wild berries, tobacco and rosemary with a very powerful and yet elegant touch has confirmed the new and very welcomed approach of more relative and refined style Nobile. Also Tenuta Trerose Santa Caterina ’17 with the great red berry crush, oriental pieces and broom flowers is a very delicious interpretation of this tough vintage. Lunadoro Pagliareto Nobile ’17 for me is another reassuring performance of this winery which I have been checking out for the past few years!

Among the Riserva 2016 Bindella Vallocaia stands ut for its clean fruit and lengthy finish; I have already mentioned Boscarelli and Tenuta di Gracciano della SetaTenute Tre Rose Simposio and Le Berne among the ones to watch. But I haven’t yet mentioned these three wineries which jumped out of the glass during my recent tasting in the last few years

Manvi “Arya” 2016 is the revelation nobile for me this year. This is a relatively organic ne winery which I believe has got great potential and as its 2013 Nobile is starting to open now, you might wanna hold on to this bottles for a little longer before you open them.

Montemercurio with its Messaggero Nobile 2016 was one of the most energetic wines in the tasting and it is like so every year now. And similar praises go for Il Macchione 2016 with great red fruit, some austerity and gun flint complexity year after year!

Happy Nobile di Montepulciano to you all!