It’s 1790, a mere two years after the ratification of the US Constitution and the nascent United States was in serious danger. The bitter political rivalry between Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, plus two surging issues that inflamed the nation, led to grim talk of dissolving the union. Jefferson knew that preserving the union was of the utmost importance; so he set about orchestrating a single great evening that achieved the compromises which led to America’s expansion. How did Jefferson effect such critical compromise? He served Vino Nobile di Montepulciano!
For Centuries, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano has been produced in the lovely hill town of Montepulciano in Southeastern Tuscany. Promoted to DOCG status in 1980, the Noble Wine of Montepulciano is made primarily from Prugnolo Gentile, the local clone of Sangiovese. Under current disciplinary regulations from the Consorzio, blends can vary greatly which makes it difficult for consumers and writers alike to “define” a benchmark Vino Nobile. Bottled wines must contain at least 70% Sangiovese with the balance permitted to be any other red grapes approved for growing in Tuscany. A wide parameter indeed. That being said, most producers rely heavily on Sangiovese and in my experience, the best examples of Vino Nobile are close to 100% Sangiovese.
Since 1974, Avignonesi has been an iconic producer from this charming hill town. Named after a member of the founding family, the estate was purchased in 2009 by the Belgian born Virginie Saverys, after two years as a silent, minority owner. Since taking over at Avignonesi, Saverys has worked tirelessly to transform the estate based on her vision. Vineyard sites have been expanded and the estate is now certified biodynamic and organic. Saverys is adamant about leaving the vines and soil in better condition for the benefit of future generations. In fact, she considers it her duty.
Today we’re looking at the latest Vino Nobile release from Avignonesi. The 2013 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a medium ruby color with faint violet highlights. Given my prior experience with this wine, it was not decanted but simply opened about 45 minutes before dinner. On the nose, the taster is struck by a classic combination of mature Sangiovese aromas; dried herbs, dried leaf tobacco and warm cherry notes fill the glass. On the palate, the juicy sweet and tart cherry flavors mark the wine and are joined by hints of nutmeg and dried tobacco. Medium bodied and pleasing and although this is not terribly complex, it is a nice red for mid-term consumption. Avignonesi is a top tier producer and this wine is always well made yet never achieves excellence. Perhaps that will change, but the estates other wines (Grandi Annate, Desiderio, Grifi) are serious and significantly better wines. 88 points. Good value around $20. Find this wine.