As usual there’s more below on the what and the why, but the short story here is that we’ve dug up a gem of a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a historic and potentially brilliant appellation that I find often flatters to deceive. At their best the wines are as good as Italy gets, but all too rarely do they show the elegance on display here. This one however, has finesse, class, restraint, no flashy new oak, just pure bright fruit. From the same producer, we also offer an excellent value ‘Rosso’ that would make a superb case buy, and while I mention game in the tasting note, with its bright acidity it would also make an absolutely perfect weekday evening pizza wine. If you’re anything like me, you always need more of those in your life…
2016 Capoverso Rosso di Montepulciano
This feels beautifully elegant and easy, while also showing an intensity of bright red cherry fruit, a slight earthiness, and a seam of minerality on the finish. Serious value here, would be great with something a little gamey.
2015 Capoverso Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Like the Rosso this has a strong core of cherry fruit, but here it’s darker and more intense, combining with notes of smoke and coffee bean. Beautifully smooth texture, and fine length on the finish. This is Vino Nobile as it should be- intense yes, but with an elegance and restraint I don’t see often. I don’t think this needs any more age and is drinking perfectly already.
More about the wine:
Despite being one of the world’s two largest wine producing nations (annually vying with France for first place), and the fact that they’ve been doing it for thousands of years, Italy somehow manages to still be just about the best source for under the radar gems anywhere in the old world. While in France pretty much every inch of viable vineyard land has been studied, planted, tested and perfected over generations, Italy still seems like the wild west. Enough so that each year Italy produces a disproportionately large percentage of the new discoveries I make that really excite me.
Even in an appellation like Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, considered the king of Italian wine regions as early as the sixteenth century, and even in the hands of a family like Avignonesi, who have been in the area and making revered wines since the fourteenth century, somehow, they’ve still come up with something new and thrilling. Not that new, as this is approaching it’s twentieth vintage, but when you factor in that a project like this really takes a decade or two to get going- new.
The brand Avignonesi is now in the hands of international investors, and since the year 2000 the family winery is now Capoverso (directly translated as ‘New Paragraph’, but perhaps ‘A New Chapter’ would better capture the spirit). Here they have planted seven and a half hectares of vines on the hills between the two towns of Cortana and Montepulciano, with both east and west facing vineyards on volcanic tuff and clay soils.
You’ll have guessed by now that I’m seriously impressed by what they’re doing, and what really does it for me is the elegance. They only use very large (up to 5000l) oak is used to avoid any overt wood influence, and everything is focused on purity of fruit and a lightness of touch, without sacrificing any intensity. This is exactly what I’m always looking for when it comes to Italian wine, or indeed, pretty much any wine.
I always love Rosso di Montepulciano when made like this, but the real gem for me here is the Vino Nobile. It’s an appellation which sometimes frustrates me as there’s inconsistency, but it can be so very good when made with love, care, restraint and skill like this. Taste this one, and suddenly it becomes clear why these were considered the best wines in Italy half a millennium ago. This is not a big, oaky, powerful wine to hit you around the head, but a classic and elegant natural beauty. One that keeps you wanting more, and where the last glass will be your favourite.