What is Vino Nobile
Wine has been made from the hills around the town of Montepulciano for over 2000 years, and just walking up to the walled city it’s easy to see why it was the home of nobility many centuries ago. The place is majestic and beautiful. It was that nobility, along with a few Popes and poets, that inspired the name Vino Nobile for the wine that was made from the local grape vines and served during their hearty feasts. Funny how names stick.
Today, Vino Nobile takes its place – geographically, financially, and stylistically – right in the heart of Tuscany with its neighbors Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico. They are all made from different Sangiovese clones, and they all bear traits of their specific terroir, and although guilty of some dipping in quality 20 or 30 years ago, Vino Nobile has more recently started to inspire lovers and critics to pay attention to it again.
Even though Vino Nobile, Chianti Classico, and Brunello are made from the same grape, microclimates and soils of each sub-region are complex and can vary widely. Summers are long, hot, and generally dry, but elevation varies greatly and the soils are a wild mix of gravel, limestone, and clay. Sitting at only 600 feet in elevation, the vineyards for Vino Nobile are lower than many of its neighbors, but planted on steep slopes of sand and clay, allowing for heavy sun exposure, good drainage, and a quick ripening season.
All these factors, plus the law that states Vino Nobile must be aged 2 years before bottling (three years for riservas), contribute to making Vino Nobile a wine that is lively, full of powerful red and black fruit, ripe plum, heavy acidity and a gentle tannic structure that encourages drinking young or aging for up to 20 years.
Food for pairing
Like all Tuscan wines, Vino Nobile is made to be paired with food. Grilled or roasted meats, specifically beef, lamb, wild boar, and duck, go best with this wine, as do thick meat sauces made from the same meats and mixed with fresh vegetables and tomatoes. The fat content balances the acidity of the wines perfectly. Salumi and other sausages and cured meats are perfect, too.
For the vegetarians out there, sautéed pasta with caramelized onions and wild mushrooms, or simply tossed with olive oil and fresh truffles provide wonderful earthy qualities that pair well with the minerality and tannins of the wine.
For one of the best recipes to pair with Vino Nobile, try this Pappardelle with Boar Ragu from Mario Batali. It’s sublime.
Boscarelli Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2012 $37
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2011 $30
Cecchi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, 2011 $33
Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva, 2010 $30