In a nutshell: A traditional, rustic and characterful Tuscan classic.
The lowdown: Not for the fainthearted, this is incredibly dry and austere when just opened, but give it some time to open up and it reveals layer upon layer of flavours. The farmyard nose is lifted by hints of mint, herbs and almonds which lead onto an earthy palate of stewed cherry and rhubarb fruit, meat, leather and truffle. The grippy tannins and rounded acidity balance the palate very well.
When to drink: A definite food wine, drink it with the heartiest of red meat dishes.
This Tuscan estate lies between Montepulciano and Montefollonico and consists of about 32 hectares of which 12 are specialised vineyards, situated between 330 and 350 metres above sea level on medium-textured clay soils of Pliocene origin. The cellar buildings, dating back to end of the 13th century, are in the small, well-preserved medieval town of Montefollonico.
The oldest document referring to the wine of Montepulciano dates back to 789: the cleric Arnipert offered the church of San Silvestro or San Salvatore in Lanciniano, on Mt. Amiata, a portion of land with vineyards on it inside the castle of Policiano. Later in his 'Historical and geographical dictionary of Tuscany'. Repetti mentioned a document dating back to 1350 in which the terms for trade and exportation of Montepulciano wine were established. Records show that since the early Middle Ages the vineyards of Mons Politianus have produced excellent wines. In the mid-16th century Sante Lancerio, cellarman of Pope Paul III Farnese, praised Montepulciano 'perfect in both winter and summer, aromatic, fleshy, never sour, nor brightly-coloured, because it is a wine fit for Noblemen' - for the tables of noblemen, although the earliest labels read simply Rosso Scelto di Montepulciano. Moving on from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, Francesco Redi, renowned doctor and naturalist but also a poet, thoroughly praised the wine in his dithyrambic ode 'Bacchus in Tuscany' (1685) in which Bacchus and Ariadne extol the finest Tuscan wines. The poem ends: Montepulciano is the king of all wines! The wine continued to be praised throughout its history and in the 19th century the success of some wineries in important mid-century competitions was balanced by the severe opinion of His British Majesty's winemaker at the Vienna exhibition in 1873, when he complained that the single sample of Montepulciano present was 'mediocre enough to raise a few doubts about Redi's praise'.