Montepulciano: The Jewel of Central Italy

Step into the rich and rustic world of Montepulciano, a red grape variety that personifies the heart and soul of central Italy. Loved for its deep-coloured, robust wines that offer exceptional value and pair delightfully with food, Montepulciano stands as a testament to Italy’s viticultural diversity and winemaking heritage.

A Brief History

The Montepulciano grape is believed to have ancient origins and has been grown in the Italian region of Abruzzo for centuries. Its name possibly derives from the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany; however, this can lead to confusion as the town is more associated with the Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano rather than the Montepulciano grape itself. Despite this, the Montepulciano grape has made its home in the Apennine Mountain range, particularly in Abruzzo, where it produces the famous Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.


Montepulciano is a late-ripening grape that thrives in moderate to warm climates, where it can develop a high sugar content which translates into robust, alcohol-rich wines. It is also known for its deep purple colour, moderate acidity and soft tannins, which contribute to the overall balance and drinkability of the wines it produces.

Flavour Profile

Wines made from Montepulciano typically exhibit rich, dark fruit flavours such as blackberry, black cherry, and plum. They often carry notes of spice and earth, with some hinting at pepper, tobacco, or bitter chocolate. Despite their richness, they are usually well-rounded and smooth, thanks to the grape’s natural low acidity and soft tannins.

Different Styles of Wine

The most well-known style of wine from the Montepulciano grape is Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a hearty red wine that is often great value for money. While most Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is designed for early drinking, the “Riserva” styles from top producers and favourable vintages can age and improve for many years. These versions tend to exhibit more complex notes of dried fruit, leather and earth.

Wine Making and Maturation Options

While many Montepulciano wines are meant for early consumption and thus see little to no oak aging, the more premium versions can be matured in oak barrels to add depth, complexity and longevity. The use of oak often imparts a toasty or vanilla note to these wines, complementing their rich dark fruit and spice flavours.

Important Regions

While Montepulciano is grown throughout central and southern Italy, the most important region for this grape is undoubtedly Abruzzo. Here, it is used to produce Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, one of Italy’s most exported wines. The grape is also significant in Marche, where it’s used in the Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno blends.

Food Pairing Suggestions

The robust nature of Montepulciano, combined with its dark fruit and spice notes, makes it a perfect match for rich, hearty dishes. Think slow-cooked meats, pasta with ragù, gourmet burgers, or spicy sausages. It also pairs well with hard cheeses and rustic pizza.

In conclusion, the world of Montepulciano is a dive into the heart of Italy’s robust reds. Whether in the form of an easy-drinking, fruit-forward table wine or a complex, oak-aged reserve, Montepulciano offers wine enthusiasts a rustic yet refined experience. From its ancient origins to its modern-day expressions, this grape variety is a testament to Italy’s winemaking prowess.

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Written by

Bernard Marr has a deep passion for wine. He has written hundreds of articles on wine, including features for Forbes, covering wine-making and industry trends. Away from the world of wine, Bernard is a world-renown business and technology futurist. He is the award winning author of over 20 best-selling books and has a combined audience of nearly 4 million people across his social media channels and newsletters.

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