The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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Page 12 of 132

12 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } JUNE/JULY 2018 { the ransom report } The Ransom Report is a column by The SOMM Journal's East Coast Editor David Ransom. In each issue, David will discuss what's currently on his mind and in his glass gathered from conversations and experiences in the world of wine, spirits, and hospitality. { the ransom report } VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO has long been considered one of the most important wines of Tuscany, and, at one point, even its crown jewel. But despite a lofty heritage, this historic wine has also had its fair share of hardships when it comes to respectability, particularly when it's often held in comparison to its two neighboring Sangiovese-based siblings, Chianti Classico and Brunello di Mon- talcino. But is a comparison warranted, or even necessary? Vino Nobile, as it's traditionally known, is made by roughly 70 producers in the gently-rolling countryside surrounding Montepulciano, one of Tuscany's most picturesque hilltop towns. The climatic influence comes from the land—not the sea as it does in Montalcino to the west— which provides more moisture to the grapes. The lower elevation also makes the soils less rocky and more clay-like than in either Chianti or Montalcino. "Very often these blue clays make for excellent wines of great elegance and seamless tannins," says Virginie Saverys, Owner of Avignonesi, one of the leading wineries in the region. Saverys and partner Max de Zarobe are also staunch advocates for staking Vino Nobile's claim in the upper echelon of the modern Tuscan wine industry. One new effort that served to push Montepulciano back to the forefront was the formation of the Alliance Vinum in 2017. This group of six likeminded Vino Nobile producers has banded together to produce wines in a stricter fashion than the Consorzio Vino Nobile di Montepul - ciano currently demands, including bottling 100 percent Sangiovese Vino Nobile (regulation requires 70 percent). The alliance has set another goal to change some of the laws regarding bot - tling. Nobile can be bottled today outside the defined lines of the region, and while this practice is common in Tuscany— where many producers make wine in more than one region and bottle at their central bottling facility—the alliance feels that this lessens both the account- ability and integrity of Vino Nobile. "We have a lot of work to do," says Zarobe, "but we are gaining suppor t within the region. This is a big step toward raising standards and separating out Vino Nobile from one comparative conversation with our neighbors." Vino Nobile tends to be softer and more approachable at an early age than either Chianti Classico or Brunello, and also has less acidity. So, delve into Tuscan Sangiovese from any region, but keep an open mind when drinking Vino Nobile, because maybe the key to understanding this historic wine is to not compare it to its neighbors at all. Emphasis on the "Nobile" PAYING VINO NOBILE DI MONTEPULCIANO ITS DUES A vineyard in Montepulciano. PHOTO: DAVID RANSOM

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