Montepulciano is a hilltop town in Toscana, close to the border with Umbria. Its wines were already famed in Roman times, and received DOCG recognition in 1980. The grape is known locally as Prugnolo Gentile: this is a synonym and biotype of Sangiovese.
The growing areas of Montepulciano and Valiano are divided by the Chiana Valley. The average temperature is a little cooler than Montalcino, with greater day-night and summer-winter temperature variations. As a result, full ripening is harder to acheive, so blending grapes – Canaiolo, Colorino and Mammolo – are used to soften the wine. More modern styles are achieved through the use of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The minimum requirement is 70% Prugnolo Gentile/Sangiovese but in practice the grape is usually 85% of the blend. 5% of white grapes are permitted, but almost never used.
The soils around Montepulciano are clays and sands of marine origin, with the latter more prevalent at altitude (the growing altitudes are between 250m and 600m).
Typical Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines show a complex character which balances the elegance of Chianti Classico and the structure of Brunello di Montalcino.
The minimum ageing requirement is 24 months, of which 12 in oak; the Riserva must have a higher alcohol (13%) and be aged for a minimum 36 months, of which 12 in oak and six in bottle.