How a Nobile ages
An intriguing retrospective of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano: 10 vintages selected from between 1967 and 1999 to determine the capacity of this “noble” wine to age.
Sangiovese is a grape distinguished by its capacity to age.
Bearing witness to the lifespan of a wine, determining whether it has stood the test of time, is the dream of every passionate taster and even those somewhat obsessed by wine. The Consorzio del Vino Nobile producers’ association recently allowed us to answer the intriguing on how a Nobile ages with a tasting held in their wonderful new wine shop situated inside the Montepulciano fortress. Here the vintages of Vino Nobile from 1967 to 1999 were lined up for tasting and the result was extraordinary.
The first was the now 50-year-old Contucci 1967 . Writing in Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italla (Italian wines) guide, Gianni Fabrizo said: “In the 1960s, there were very few wine estates. Up until the mid-1970s, there were only five or six producers, between noble families and old entrepreneurs, for whom wine was already a business. In fact, before 1970s, there was no real history of wine trade whereas in France one had existed for centuries”. 1967 was the second vintage of Vino di Montepulciano with a DOC classification and the wines underwent only alcoholic fermentation without any malolactic fermentation. No enologists existed at the time, yield was high and vineyard density was very low, around half of what it is today. Aging lasted up to seven eight years and took place in large barrels.
With this in mind, it is easier to comprehend Contucci 1967 and this tasting was an occasion to admire its brick color that is still bright. This is a decadent wine that demands kindness even during the usual tasting gestures and one feels obliged to swirl it very gently in the glass to avoid losing any of the weak aromas it still may have. The aromas are ethereal with scents of dried mushrooms and underbrush with notes of rhubarb and carob. It is amazing how alive the acidity still is and how soft the tannins are. This was an experience that out of respect cannot be judged by using numbers.
The following reviews are of the other wines that impressed me the most. For obvious reasons we did not list the prices. All the wines are no longer available retail and in some cases not even the producers have any bottles left and were made available thanks to trade-offs between private parties.