Updated: Jan 26, 2020
A lot of people equate central Italy’s Tuscany region as the land of Chianti. While Chianti is Tuscany’s most famous wine (and that region a worthwhile trip), just a little further south are the regions of Montalcino and Montepulciano, which are renowned for their wonderful red wines.
We enjoyed a fabulous tour of the area through Under the Tuscan Sun with our wine guide Fabio Ceccarelli. Fabio is also a freelance professional wine guide and wine shopper, and can customize a tour for you.
Background of Montalcino and Montepulciano
The area surrounding the town of Montalcino is dryer than the Chianti region and produces terrific Brunello di Montalcino wine. Brunello is made using only Sangiovese grapes. Fabio told us that Brunello is aged at least five years, two years in wood. Another typical wine of Montalcino is the Rosso di Montalcino, a younger, less expensive Brunello, aged only two years.
Montepulciano is the third and smallest of Tuscany’s great wine districts, and produces mainly Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The town of Montepulciano is the epicenter of the region. We were told that blending isn’t as strict for Vino Nobile as it is for Brunello. The region also produces a less expensive counterpart to Vino Nobile, called Rosso di Montepulciano.
Some types of the wine of Montalcino and Montepulciano can age for 20-30 years, and a few even longer. Buy them when you’re young, or else your children will be the ones enjoying them!
Our first stop was at Cordella Montalcino, an organic winery near the town of Montalcino. Its tag line is “excellence in Brunello.” The winery isn’t kidding; this wine was so good that we had a case shipped home. We toured the production facility with Aldo, who is the winery’s private chef and operates a restaurant there. The winery has a sense of humor; it maintains a “cemetery” of wines with less-than perfect labels that never made it off the premises.
We then enjoyed our wine tasting in a beautiful room with a view of the town of Montalcino. The tasting was accompanied by jazz music and an array of organic cheese, bread, salami, truffle butter, and the winery’s own extra virgin olive oil.
Rosso di Montalcino 2014, which Aldo called an “everyday wine” 😊++
Rosso di Montalcino 2016, a year with better weather conditions than 2014 😊😊
Brunello 2011 😊😊+
Brunello 2013 😊😊+
Grappa di Brunello ½ 😊 (Sorry; Grappa is an acquired taste)
Grappa di Brunello Reserva ½ 😊
After our visit, we had a wonderful local lunch at Ristorante dal Falco in the nearby town of Pienza. Pienza, built in the Renaissance, overlooks the Val d’Orcia (Orcia Valley) and is known for Pecorino cheese. We enjoyed a selection of Pecorino cheeses and suckling pig. We also tried the local herb liquor. We liked it so much we purchased a bottle.
Fabio then took us to Croce di Febo winery in Montepulciano. It is also an organic winery. We met the winemaker, Mauriho, who explained the wines to us.