Vino Nobile producers: just say no to Merlotization!

It’s truly difficult to understand why the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Producers Association recently presented such a peculiar proposal, namely, that the minimum percentage of Sangiovese allowed by appellation regulations be lowered from 80% to 70% while the percentage of “varieties recommended and authorized by the province of Siena” (read Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, etc.) be raised.

It’s even more difficult to understand such a proposed change in the light of the results of a study published by the association in the days following Vinitaly. The association reported that an overwhelming majority of those surveyed responded that they consider Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to be a wine with a “strong identity” derived from its “terroir.”

It’s even more difficult to understand in the light of a proposal made just 20 kilometers away, in the Orcia DOC, where producers wish to create an “Orcia Sangiovese” appellation that would require a minimum of 90% Sangiovese and a maximum of 10% indigenous varieties (as opposed to international varieties “recommended and authorized” by the province).

If the proposed changes are approved, it will lead Vino Nobile toward “extreme internationalization,” as Carlo Macchi has noted intelligently on his blog Wine Surf.

At the recent Anteprima del Vino Nobile 2006 (Vino Nobile Preview 2006), there was no denying that the best wines were those were wines in which Sangiovese played a starring role (perhaps integrated with small amounts of Canaiolo, Mammolo, Ciliegiolo, or Colorino). Leafing through the technical data presented at the preview, the attachment to Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile, as it is known locally) was evident: many, in fact, declared 90-95% Sangiovese in their wines and some reported 100%.

In the light of its strong Tuscan identity and the fact that Vino Nobile is practically synonymous with Sangiovese and Prugnolo Gentile, why on earth would producers want to de-Prugnolize or de-Sangiovize their wines and make Vino Nobile another Cabernetized and Merlotized appellation?

Vino Nobile producers: just say no to Merlotization!

—Franco Ziliani

In 1980, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano became the first Italian appellation to be awarded DOCG status.


7 thoughts on “Vino Nobile producers: just say no to Merlotization!

  1. If the producers of Vino Nobile ever want to get out from under the shadow of Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, they need to make as distinct a wine as possible. That of course, would have a very high percentage of Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) along with Canaiolo and Mammolo and other local varieties with a minimum of international varieties (say perhaps 10%).

    Bravo, Franco!

  2. These wines to remain Italian should have at least 85% Italian varieties in them, whether that be Sangiovese or Sangiovese plus other indigenous varieties. French varieties should act as a support, not put their signature on an Italian wine. If producers want to use foreign varieties, they have an easy route, IGT.

  3. Difficult to understand, and devastatingly stupid too.
    This proposal rewards mediocrity instead of excellence, worst of all at the expense of authenticity.
    Vino Nobile should be based solely on indigenous grape varieties, of which at least 80% sangiovese.
    Those who like a combination of Tuscan and French varieties could look for DOCG Carmignano, DOC Pomino and DOC Bolghieri Rosso, or a wide range of IGT wines.
    The tendency towards “internationalization” in Italian vinyards will in the end harm the reputation of Italy’s wine culture.
    Too high a price to pay for those few extra points awarded by wine journalists who do not understand Italian wines!

  4. Pingback: Just Say NO to Merlot! « Do Bianchi

  5. Pingback: Vino Wire » Renzo Cotarella on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Prugnolo Gentile

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