What’s in My Glass? Montepulciano
Not to be confused with Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo–which is the one in my glass–actually comes from the Montepulciano grape. (The other is instead from the village of Montepulciano in Tuscany.)
The Cantina Zaccagnini 2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($14.99) I picked up at the modern peasants’ wine shop–Trader Joe’s–was dark and plummy, and had a serious grip in my mouth, true to its history as a rough workingman’s drink in the Adriatic-facing province of Abruzzo. This wasn’t a bad wine by any standard, but I’ll admit I wished I’d bought the $6.99 bottle. Cherry, earth, cassis, and vanilla came through, but overall I was a bit disappointed with the depth of the juice, having expected more because of the price jump.
A relatively easy grape to grow, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo offers a great value–most of the time–with soft tannins and low acidity which make it a simple and pleasant pairing alongside traditional Italian fare. Think anything tomato based–including pizza–or simple meaty dishes like stews.
Ribollita is a classic Italian peasant dish that originated from serfs taking leftovers home from their lords and literally reboiling the mix over an open fire. Warm, hearty peasant food was not only a natural pair with the workingman’s juice, but served to soothe the woes of starving city girl/student sydrome (from which we were suffering intensely). Thanks to this recipe from Food Network star Ina Garten, our version was slightly more sophisticated.
Serf or not, I’d eat this any day.
Pureed cannelini beans and pancetta added fantastic flavor and weight to this dish, pumping it up from an ordinary minestrone to a hearty stew that begged for a medium-bodied red wine. Despite the lack of price value, the Montepulciano was a good match, with its rough and simple mouthfeel complementing the tomato and smoked pancetta flavors of the soup. I’d recommend other Montepulcianos (Perhaps this one) with similar dishes hands-down.
Laura Loves: This unpretentious 2-minute evaluation (and praise) for Montepulciano by NY Times critic Eric Asimov.
The wealth of Montepulciano I found for under $9 on wine-searcher.com–I’ll be needing something to console myself as cold weather and peasant status set in around NYC.
Fun Facts: Montepulciano is the 2nd most widely planted indigenous Italian grape variety, closely following Sangiovese.
This sturdy grape variety is also used in rosé wines labeled Cerasuolo.