There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the Montepulciano name since it’s both the name of a red grape variety planted widely throughout East-Central Italy and of a town in the Tuscany region in Central Italy, where some different varieties of wine are produced.
The Montepulciano grape is most prominent in Abruzzo, home of the best-known Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. These have a deep, rich color, strong aromatics, and a full-bodied structure with ripe and powerful tannins. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines can represent excellent value for money and are widely exported.
The town of Montepulciano is famous for its dry red wines like Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti, Rosso di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, and sweet white wines like Vin Santo di Montepulciano.
|1. Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017
|2. Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2015
|3. Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano 2005
|4. Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino 2018
While these wines have nothing in common with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the main difference being that it’s made of Montepulciano grapes which aren’t grown in the town Montepulciano, search online for ‘Montepulciano’ and the results will likely feature both wines from the grape AND the town.
So, for our best Montepulciano wine reviews and comparisons, we selected what we consider to be the best of both, tasted and tested them, and then delivered our verdict below.
Our Best Montepulciano Wine Reviews and Comparisons
1. Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2015
This Brunello di Montalcino Rich is full-bodied and velvety on the palate. Of Sangiovese grapes come from vines covering 21 hectares of rolling Tuscan hills, the limestone soils, and Alberese rock of which characterize the freshness and balanced structure of the wine.
Bottled in June 2019 and released in January 2020, it is beautifully layered, integrated, and savory. The temptation might be to drink it now. Don’t! Instead, resist and hold for two to three years. We promise it’ll be worth it.
- Variety: Sangiovese Grosso, Italian Red
- Appellation: Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany
- Winery: Altesino
- Alcohol: 14.6%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2015
If you’ve ever visited, then the fruit aromas of dark cherry and plum should remind you of the warm and golden sunlight of Tuscany.
It may at first feel thin in the mouth, but don’t be deceived. It soon exhibits beautiful depth and latitude. It houses a wide range of flavors, in harmony and unity.
There’s the earthy: moist soil, tobacco, terracotta, and cedar. The spicy: chocolate, vanilla, lavender, and violet. And, of course, the fruity: those red plums, cherries, and wild berries.
Its neat tannins and clear acidity provide a near-perfect balance to drink with rich dishes of Osso Bucco, stews, pot roasts, and barbecued meats.
What We Don’t Like About Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2015
It’s not as full-bodied as we expected compared to what we’d consider a traditional Brunello, with a shorter finish.
We also detected a little ‘jamminess’ to the fruit and alcohol on the nose.
That said, we didn’t have the luxury, unfortunately, of being able to wait for a couple of years.
- First time trying Altesino? It won’t be the last.
- Brunello at its best!
- Young but already wonderful. Will be even better in a few years.
- Perfect with red meat
- Too herbal
- Insufficiently ripened
2. Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017
This delicious red wine is a familiar sight in the Italian section of many wine stores, as it’s unmistakable with a little twig tied to the neck of the bottle with a piece of straw. It is one of the most exported Italian wines to the US.
Cantina Zaccagnini is a great value red produced from Montepulciano grapes in Abruzzo, with floral and spice notes, it’s the perfect wine for drinking now on any occasion.
- Variety: Montepulciano, Italian Red
- Appellation: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Central Italy
- Winery: Cantina Zaccagnini
- Alcohol: 13%
- Bottle Size: 750 ml
What We Like About Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017
We’d forgotten just how good this Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is until we tasted it again for this review. With many textures, and long and even paces it’s sumptuously flavored.
First, comes the juicy, yet slightly sour-edged, blackberry, cherry, and brandy-soaked plum notes. After that, we detected hints of black licorice, balsamic, dark chocolate, vanilla, herbs, and spices. The palate is thick and leathery in complexity from the host of oaky flavors. But with freshness from crunchy tannins and tangy acidity cutting through the density just enough.
Drink it with pasta with red sauce, sausages, or other grilled meats. This 13% alcohol medium-to-full-bodied red is a truly wonderful value.
What We Don’t Like About Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017
Some drinkers might consider it thick, syrupy, with one-dimensional cherry notes and a bitter tannic licorice finish. Although clearly not us.
Admittedly, for all of the above flavors, it’s not especially complicated or layered, with the oak flavors perhaps just a little too over-powering.
- Just the right balance of taste, body, and value
- Pleasing and light tannic finish
- Easy drinking on its own
- A little too oaky
- A bit raw on the first opening
3. Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano 2005
Here’s where you could get confused! Bearing the Montepulciano appellation, this is actually from the town of that name in Tuscany. And as a white dessert wine, it’s one of the finest that we’ve ever sampled.
Instead of from the Montepulciano grape, it’s a blend of only the best of Grechetto, Malvasia Toscana, and Trebbiano Toscana grape varieties. They’re grown in vineyards at an altitude of 290 meters above sea level.
After manual harvesting, the grapes are dried up and left in a well-ventilated dark room with controlled humidity for six months for the excessive moisture to evaporate and sugar concentration to increase.
After aging in ‘caratelli’, small oak barrels of 50 liters volume for 10 years, it is matured in bottles for a further 6 months. The result is a deliciously sweet dessert wine of deep yellow-amber color, with a rich and complex taste.
- Variety: Grechetto, Malvasia, and Trebbiano, Italian White
- Appellation: Vin Santo di Montepulciano, Tuscany
- Winery: Avignonesi
- Alcohol: 12.5%
- Bottle Size: 375 ml
What We Like About Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano 2005
With a perfect balance and a long finish, the aroma of Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano 2005 is heavenly. Filled with tones of the dried and candied fruits (prunes, raisins, and oranges) married with the luxuries of honey, caramel, toffee, and chocolate. Even more subtle notes of white tea leaves, cinnamon, and vanilla can be detected.
On the palate, new and surprising flavors are revealed with every sip; fig, lemon, almond, and roasted coffee. And the perfect balance between acidity and sweetness makes for an elegant, even sensual finish.
As well as the drying and aging process, this Vin Santo owes much of its special character to the ‘madre’, a century-old yeast, which is carefully protected by Avignonesi.
It’s almost faultless as a digestif for even the most sophisticated of connoisseurs and gastronomes. Although you can tell that we’re neither of those when we say that it’s like a dessert in itself and we wanted to like our glasses clean!
Read Related Topic: Best Zinfandel Wine
What We Don’t Like About Avignonesi Vin Santo di Montepulciano 2005
If you like dessert wines, then it’s pretty faultless. Except for that process and this quality doesn’t come cheap! And of course, that’s also for the traditional half-bottle.
- Beautiful thick like syrup
- A sweet and concentrated dessert in a single sip
- The color of an autumn sunset!
- You have to be a real dessert wine fan to enjoy
- Not for everyday drinking at this price!
4. Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino 2018
Think of this Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino as a younger and cheaper alternative to the Altesino Brunello. Although that’s not to say that it lacks an impressive structure and personality of its own.
Produced with grapes from the estate’s newer vineyards in Montepulciano, Tuscany. Wood aging tones down the typical tannins of a young Sangiovese. This process is not obligatory for a Rosso di Montalcino but gives this example complexity of aroma and layering that ‘Young Brunellos’ often lack.
- Variety: Sangiovese, Italian Red
- Appellation: Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany
- Winery: Il Poggione
- Alcohol: 14%
- Bottle: 750 ml
What We Like About Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino 2018
It’s not just because of the price that this Montalcino wine is more accessible than the Brunello from Altesino, but also from the food that it can perfectly compliment.
We enjoyed our first glass with an appetizer of a variety of rich-flavored crostini and continued with a pasta course of meaty lasagna.
Yes, that was just the middle course, because this Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino, with its combination of dark, red fruit and berries is too good not to savor with a full-menu experience. The smooth tannins and developed firm structure made it ideal with the traditional Tuscan steak, but it would go equally well with roasted lamb or pork, hearty meat ragu, or antipasti of grilled eggplant, peppers, and artichokes.
It even has enough of a hint of sweet nuttiness to cut through the pungent and delicious Italian cheeses that we finished with.
With this versatility, and at this price, you’d be crazy to miss out on this marvelous Sangiovese red from the Il Poggione winery in Montepulciano.
See Related Article: Best Fruity Wine
What We Don’t Like About Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino 2018
Some drinkers may find it a little sharp for their tastes, and would benefit from it laying in the cellar – or somewhere else suitable in the more likely event that you don’t have one! – a few years in the cellar.
Alternatively, Il Poggione might have matured it in oak for longer than one year.
- Smooth and accessible
- Deep flavor
- A rich, dark, full-bodied wine, but still classically Sangiovese
- Has the structure, balance, and zing of an older wine
- Tannins are a little on the heavy side
- Strong alcohol on the nose, tart, and acidic. Let it settle.
Want a ruby-red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or one of the wider variety of wines from the town of Montepulciano that is perfect for drinking now? Then, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017. Especially for value for money.
If it’s for laying down for later in your wine collection, our choice is Altesino Brunello di Montalcino 2015.