Montepulciano is an indigenous Italian red wine grape variety that is most noted for being the primary grape in the (DOCG) wine Montepulciano d'Abruzzo.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo comes from the mountainous region of Abruzzi on the Adriatic coast of Central Italy. In Italy Montepulciano is also known as Cordisco, Morellone, Primaticcio, and Uva Abruzzi. It should not be confused with the Tuscan wine 'Vino Nobile di Montepulciano', which is made from predominantly Sangiovese and is named for the village it is produced in, rather than containing any Montepulciano grapes in the blend.
Montepulciano is widely planted throughout central and southern Italy, most notably in Abruzzi, Latium, Marche, Molise, Umbria and Apulia, and is a permitted variety in DOC wines produced in 20 of Italy's 95 provinces. Montepulciano is rarely found in northern Italy because the grape has a tendency to ripen late and can be excessively 'green' if harvested early.
Montepulciano likely originated in Tuscany and may be related to Sangiovese of which the two grapes are often confused with. After Sangiovese, Montepulciano is Italy's second most widely planted indigenous red grape variety.
The skins have a fair amount of pigmented tannins and colour producing phenols that with maceration can produce a deep ruby coloured wine. Compared to most Italian varieties, Montepulciano produces smooth, drinkable wines that can improve for three or four years after vintage. Montepulciano wines are typically fruity and dry with soft tannins, and so are often consumed young. Over time, the wine turns to garnet red during its maturation. With a fairly intense nose of strawberry and ripe plum fruit, combined with leather and fading red flowers, these smooth drinking wines are often peppery and spicy, making them the perfect complement to the region's sometimes spicy foods.
If aged by the winery for more than two years, the wine will be labelled 'Riserva'. You can pair them with hearty Italian cuisine or with sharp cheeses.