Article by Hannah Lunn
A grape of two halves, Montepulciano sits behind Sangiovese as being the second most planted variety in Italy. But why two halves? Within the thick skins of this grape you have naturally high levels of both tannins and colour compounds, making it bold by nature. To achieve the perfect ripeness in those phenolic compounds, abundant sunshine and a caressing warmth are key. This is especially important as the Montepulciano grape is late ripening, meaning it has a late start to the game and needs a longer, sunnier growing season to catch up. Despite this it is known for producing reliably high yields. A fact which unfortunately contributes to the view that Montepulciano is a simple grape used for bulking out wines and selling to the mass market. However, this feisty little variety should most certainly not be underrated in such a way.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC
Yes you can use this grape to make soft, juicy wines bursting with red fruits, fragrant herbs and a fresh earthiness. This is one half, one perfect, easy to drink half with elegance, balance and supple layers of flavour. This is not a sign of weakness however, this is a sign of skill. Here the winemaker has used less skin contact during the fermentation process to extract less structural tannins and enough of those deep pigments to create a smooth, vibrant coloured wine.
The other half sees the same grapes, picked at optimum ripeness from the best sites, spend a longer time in contact with those chewy skins. This is often followed by a period of oak maturation to soften the higher tannins and add an extra layer of aromatic complexity to the richer, dark-fruited flavours coming through.
Away from the wind…
So what do we have here I hear you ask? Well, firstly Sottovento means ‘away from the wind’ and is perhaps hinting at the protected, sunny hillside sites the grapes come from. It is this dry, warm growing season that makes the area ideal for producing organic wine such as this. Here the grapes are grown and nurtured with the upmost respect for the vineyard’s thriving ecosystem. Secondly, we have a mix of oak barriques and stainless steel, a modern approach to a traditional view on the two halves of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC.
A velvety, ripe fruited wine that coats the palate in a ton of flavour. The nose is deep and heady with ripe red cherries dangling with dark plums and bramble fruits. There is a smoky, cacao edge there too – luring you in. On the palate there is an unbelievable creaminess, filling the mouth with each sip. Those dark plums, blackberries and blackcurrants come out to play again on a fresh cherry backdrop. The cacao has evolved into a smooth milk chocolate, balanced by a savoury waft of tobacco. There is a vibrant medium acidity holding the fort and keeping the palate clean while those high levels of ripe tannins swing between plush opulence and subtle grip.
A rich, round red with a stylish label. Perfect for pairing with a rich spaghetti bolognese, bbq pork ribs or roast duck breast.