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Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano A Hearty Holiday Choice

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2016, Italy

Cost: $29-31

Happy Thanksgiving.

If you are reading this before your big feast, I hope you are chilling a nice bottle of sparkling wine, because that is a great match with Thanksgiving dinner. Or a dry riesling, a zesty zinfandel or a dry rosé.

Now it’s time to turn toward Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year and all the holiday parties scattered through the next month. Red wines are popular in the cooler months, and it is always nice to have a wine that will go with a hearty meal, but is also light enough to be enjoyed with hors d’oeuvres.

Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG ($29-31) is a great holiday wine. It’s powerful enough to pair with a standing rib roast and light enough to serve with finger food at a party.

It is a gorgeous ruby color in the glass with waves of intense aromas of blackberries and cherries. It has a pleasant taste that continues to develop as it sits in your glass. I picked up plum and black cherry with some vanilla notes and a good balance between acidity and pleasant tannins.

The winery suggests serving this wine at about 60 degrees, and I agree. If you start out with the wine at room temperature, the wine tastes harsh and flat. This wine could continue to improve in the bottle for another 10 years or so.

Tuscan wines can run the gamut from light and fruity to rich and full bodied. This ranks stylistically between Chianti Classico, for its finesse, and Brunello di Montalcino for its power. With its heavy concentration and firm structure this wine will be better with a little age on it, though it is delightful to drink now.

The wine is primarily sangiovese, the region’s predominant grape, which the locals call prugnolo gentile. It makes up 85 of the blend, with the other 15 percent being colorino, canaiolo and merlot. All the grapes are estate-grown.

The grapes are hand picked and then macerated and fermented in truncated, conical stainless steel vats for 15-20 days. The wine then spends about 14-16 months in wood barrels, two thirds in barriques and tonneaux of French oak and a third in vats.

I had the 2016 and 2017 vintages, and both were wonderful. This wine was first produced in 1968, so the winery has plenty of experience making it.

The village of Montepulciano should not be confused with the red gape of the same name grown in Abruzzo and the Marche region. It was home to one of the first four Italian DOCGs granted in 1980.

DOCG is the highest of the four quality levels in Italy. Vineyard yields must be lower and the wine must pass an evaluation and analysis by a government-appointed committee. There are about 75 DOCG wines in Italy.

Poliziano also produces a rosso di multepulciano at a lower price of around $17. It is 80 percent sangiovese and 20 percent merlot, aged eight months, 20-40 percent in wood of various sizes.

The 2015 Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Asinone” DOCG ($60-65) is considered the crown jewel of the Poliziano portfolio and one of the most consistently recognized red wines in Italy.

The Poliziano wines are relative bargains because they are imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct. Instead of the traditional three-tiered distribution system distributors purchase and ship wine direct from the wineries, cutting about 25 percent off the usual mark-up.

Winery: Poliziano was founded in 1961 when Dino Carletti bought 55 acres in the commune of Montepulciano. The estate is on the slopes below the town, near the village of Gracciano. The estate has since grown to more than 640 acres under the direction of Dino’s son, Federico Carletti.

I was fortunate to visit Poliziano five years ago when Teri and I toured a large part of Italy with our friends Tim and Kathy. We had a grand time discovering great food and wine, and no winery visit was better than Poliziano.

It is a gorgeous estate, with a sleek, modern winery and tasting room that somehow blends in with the ancient hilltop town. We watched workers hand sort grapes and send them along to the fermentation vats, which we also saw on our tour. It is a fun winery to visit and is set up to handle large groups easily.

Poliziano’s name is a tribute to the humanist poet Angelo Ambrogini (1454-1494), nicknamed “Poliziano.” Angelo’s portrait hangs in the tasting room in the center of the estate.

Federico thinks of himself as a farmer, because he is “convinced that fine wines originate in the vineyard. Selected clones, planting layouts, rootstock, pruning methods and training systems are chosen with the sole object of ensuring the quality of the grapes. This is the starting point for my wines: they are made only from grapes grown on the estate, respecting their original vintage and the typicality of the area they come from.”

Each step in the vineyard takes place with the experienced hands of the vineyard experts at Poliziano who intervene on the basis of the specific conditions of each plant, each parcel, and each year. The cultivation is strictly organic, although not yet certified.

Each parcel gets special treatment to reflect soil conditions and microclimates, and all the cultivation is done manually.

The special treatment continues in the cellar, which is set up to handle small batches from separate parcels. The aging cellar was built in 2005 and is humidity and temperature controlled. The wine also undergoes some bottle aging, which varies depending on the wine.
 
In addition to Poliziano, the Carletti family owns a winery on coastal Maremma called Lohsa (named after the nearby river Osa). Lohsa is planted to 67 acres of vineyards dedicated to the production of Morellino di Scansano DOC (primarily sangiovese with some ciliegiolo, malvasia nera and canaiolo) as well as the “Mandrone di Lohsa” Maremma IGT (cabernet sauvignon, alicante, petit verdot and carignano).

Much like nearby Bolgheri, this region of the Tuscan coast is ripe with innovation, and experimentation with New World varieties, as well as other forward-thinking techniques that may be unexplored in some of the more established neighboring regions.
 
Poliziano produces more than one million bottles each year

Goes with: We had this with beef stew, one of my mother’s recipes that I’ve tinkered with a little. It is a hearty stew, perfect for the cool weather we had a couple of weeks ago.

It matches the wine well, with the fruit flavors nicely balancing the savory flavors in the stew. The wine packs plenty of punch, so it can handly this hearty stew.

The ideal food matchings for Poliziano’s Nobile di Montepulciano include the typical dishes of Tuscan cuisine: from Florentine steak, to tasty Tuscan pastas, such “pici with Cinta Senese” pork meat sauce or “all’Aglione” tomato ad garlic sauce. In general, this Tuscan red pairs well with roasted and braised meats, game, noble poultry and aged cheese like Pienza Pecorino.


If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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