Day four of my Tuscan tasting tour was Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. I honestly admit to disliking this wine. We all have our biases and I am happy to declare mine, but more than a personal preference or lack thereof, it was actually a growing impatience with the nouveau-rich competition style of many Vino Nobiles, overoaked, overextracted, overripe, lacking the zest and elegance that Sangiovese is capable of. I addressed this issue last year, and this time I feared a repeat of the same.
I am mildly relieved to say that the situation has improved – just. 2009 Nobiles and 2008 Riservas showed less of that mouth-drying unbalanced extract that has been so painful in the last years. So it’s official: Vino Nobile is taking note of the stylistic change that is happening in Tuscany and beyond. But interestingly, now that producers just as in Chianti are phasing out Merlot and moving towards less extracted, more drinkable wines (although it’s happening much slower than in Chianti), the landscape that is revealed in a way is as desolated as the Crete di Siena.
Many of these semi-reformed Vino Nobiles have little fruit, lack freshness, brilliance, poise, but more importantly have no texture, concentration and real presence on the palate. Out of the 35 Nobiles I tasted from the 2009 vintage there were only six that I’d remotely consider buying. The rest, although free from the exasperated problems of the past, were just ordinary, unsubstantial wines that at times wouldn’t even be worth to be labelled with Rosso di Montepulciano, Nobile’s lower denomination. It might sound crude to say but the technical level of many modern Nobiles is low, and these wines just offer little excitement to the drinker.
Below is a slideshow of those wines I singled out as interesting – both 2009 Nobiles and 2008 Riservas – while in my next article I’ll tell the tale of one really exciting Nobile, the Valdipiatta Alfiero.
My trip to Tuscany including flights, accommodation and wine tasting programme is sponsored by the consorzios of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.