Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with lamb chops.
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano with lamb chops.
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2010, Tuscany
Cost: $28-30
What: When it comes to buying wine, we often are victims of our own habits, prejudices or fears, much as other aspects of our lives are governed by those traits.
With wine it is easy to break out of our habits. Just try something new. The risk is low and the reward is potentially high.
One of my goals with this column is give readers some alternatives to the favorite wines we drink all the time. There is nothing wrong with drinking wines we know and love, but it also is fun to explore.
During a recent two-week vacation in Italy, including a week in Tuscany, I tried many great Italian wines. Over the coming months I will tell you about the ones available locally. On my blog I will write about some of the others that might not be sold here.
Today’s wine from Montepulciano is one of the better ones I tried. It is bursting with ripe fruit flavors balanced with crisp acidity. In the glass it is a tantalizing, almost opaque, red with aromas of cherry, flowers and spice.
Swirl it around your mouth and you pick up flavors of cherry and raspberry, with notes of spice and plum. It is a dry, medium-bodied wine. The finish is long and silky, showing a touch of minerality, with firm tannins that promise to give this wine a long life. It should continue to develop in the bottle for at least another 10 years.
After picking, the grapes spent around 20 days in fermentation tanks, 18 months in oak (70 percent in barriques and 30 percent in large oak casks) and at least seven months in the bottle before release.
Vino Nobile from Montepulciano is one of those appellations that many American wine drinkers don’t know much about. We tend to focus on Chianti to the north, or the Brunello from Montalcino.
The Brunello deserves our attention, as it is one of Italy’s best-known and most expensive wines. But Montepulciano makes wonderful wine as well, often sold at much lower prices.
Both are ancient, walled, hilltop towns in the hilly region of southern Tuscany. Montepulciano is a few kilometers to the east, near the border with Umbria. Montepulciano also is just southwest of Cortona, site of “Under the Tuscan Sun,” but that’s another story.
Montepulciano was the first area to achieve DOCG status (the highest in Italian wine ranking) in 1966. Vino Nobile became an authorized designation in 1980.
The wine must contain at least 70 percent Sangiovese blended with local grapes such as Mammolo and Canaiolo Nero. The Avignonesi goes a step father, using 100 percent Sangiovese grapes. Last year it was No. 58 on the Wine Spectator Top 100 list.
Sometimes people confuse this wine with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, but that is wine made from the Montepulciano grape grown in east-central Italy. Tuscany is on the west coast.
Winery: Avignonesi has been around since the mid-16th Century, founded by one of the families who followed Pope Gregory XI from France to Italy in 1377. In modern times the Falvo brothers bought the property in 1974 and modernized it.
Virginie Saverys became a minority shareholder in 2007 and became full owner in 2009. She was born in Ghent, Belgium, studied at the University of Paris and practiced law before moving to Tuscany in 2006 to pursue her passion for wine.
She introduced organic farming and began working with the University of Bordeaux to analyze soil and topography. The aim is to produce wines that reflect where they are grown. Avignonesi practices biodynamic farming, and is in the process of being certified.
The winery owns 345 acres on seven different properties that lie about 1,000 feet above sea level.
The current 2011 release was grown on the Le Capezzine Estate, close to the village of Valiano northwest of Montepulciano; I Poggetti and LeBadelle vineyards, on the Argiano hills east of Montepulciano, and the Banditella and El Grasso vineyards, located in the Banditella area, southeast of Montepulciano.
The winery grows international varietals such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in Cortona. It also produces Vin Santo, Grappa and olive oil. All the wines are made from estate fruit.
The winery is located in the village of Valiano, between Montepulciano and Cortona. It offers tours, tastings, wine pairings, special lunches and cooking classes.
Lamb chops with wild rice were the perfect match for this wine.
Lamb chops with wild rice were the perfect match for this wine.
Goes with: We drank this wine with a wonderful meal of grilled lamb chops, wild rice and fresh veggies. My wife Teri and I both loved the way the silky Avignonesi smoothed out the pungent flavor of the lamb.
It is easy for lamb to overpower a wine, but this Vino Nobile held its own and brought out the best flavors in the lamb. It was a perfect pairing.
It also would go well with meat dishes, such as duck ragu served over pasta, steak, sausages on the grill, pork chops or a hearty pasta with tomato sauce.

Write A Comment

Pin It