2018 Poliziano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, Tuscany, Italy.
The latest Poliziano Vino Nobile is as it always seems to be, a benchmark wine for this region and delivers a classic tour de force of Tuscan goodness with dark layers of bramble berry, plum, dried cherry and strawberry fruits along with a background of subtle earthiness, spice and mint lead by hints of soy, cedar, anise, loam and snappy herbs . After a few swirls a richer body emerges and there’s a lingering array of porporri, pipe tobacco, fig and currant. There’s fresh acidity and some authentic raw tannin here that provides a soulful structure to this vintage and makes it a wine that is at its best with a full and hearty meal, it all comes together with meat and or mushroom dishes and having tried with grilled steak it proved excellent and gained depth and complexity on the robust palate. This pure terroir driven Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from 85% Prugnolo Gentile, the local name for Sangiovese, with the other 15% being a mix of Colorino, Canaiolo and Merlot grown on the estate’s clay and silted soils that contain many fossilized stones at set up at prime higher elevation for added complexity and balance. The Poliziano grapes are all grown with sustainable methods, mostly to organic practices though without certification and are fermented in large oak casks before being aged close to 20 months in various sized French oak barrels, with only a about 20% seeing the smaller 225Ls. While still youthful, there is some serious aging potential here with this 2018 and it might ultimately prove as good as the 2016s and it is a remarkable value at the price, easily making it a wine to enjoy without much guilt or wallet pain. I will always remember my first visit to Montepulciano, the rustic and beautiful hilltop town, once prized for the healing power of its spring waters that have long been used for local spa treatments, I got to witness this remote village bring in its grapes in late September and the air was filled with the glorious smell of fermentation, making the experience extra special. This wine brought back memories of a chaotic comedy, that could only happen in Italy with an ancient truck overloaded with grapes struggling to make it up a steep grade to the co-op in the old town and men rushing over to help push it up the final stretch, me included, with all of us, the old diesel included sliding dangerously on rain slick pavement! Oh man, I laughed, though I was worried I might be seriously injured or even be run over, happily we all, grapes included survived.
The Poliziano winery in Montepulciano was named after Agnolo Ambrogini, who was more commonly known by his nickname “Poliziano” (born in 1454 and died in 1494), the famous Italian poet and humanist and considered the foremost classical scholar of the Renaissance period, he was also a friend and protege of legendary Lorenzo de’ Medici, of the ruling family of Florence. It was because of his ties to Montepulciano and his work as a humanist that make him one of the town’s most cherished sons, who’s name was derived from the Latin name of his birthplace, Montepulciano (Mons Politianus). He was poisoned at the age of 40 by followers of Piero de’ Medici who worried he might lay claim to the seat of power in the aftermath of Lorenzo’s death. His life was full of controversy and makes for fantastic reading, as does the history of the de’ Medici family, these were intriguing times to say the least! The Poliziano winery has storied past and was founded in 1961 by Dino Carletti, who was a visionary in the region and helped it gain its status as one of Tuscany’s premier DOCGs. Now Poliziano is led by Dino’s son Federico Carletti and his children, Francesco and Maria Stella about to become the third generation to run this historic estate. Obviously the main focus at Poliziano is Prugnolo Gentile, the most prestigious clone of Sangiovese (the same as Sangiovese Grosso in Brunello di Montalcino), but they also have Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot vines, along with native rarities Canaiolo Nero and Colorino. Federico is the former president of the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, leading the group from 2008 to 2013 and was a founding member of a small group of vintners, called the Alliance that wanted the top DOCG wines in the area to be 100% Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) like Brunello, instead of only being 70% as the rules dictate, and from the 2015 vintage on, these pure Sangiovese wines, one level up from this one, will feature the word “Nobile” in large type on their label and be from single vineyards. Poliziano is well worth searching out, especially for this bottling as well as for the winery’s entry level Rosso di Montepulciano, which is a no nonsense bargain as well as their single cru offerings, the Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano “Asinone” and the “Le Caggiole” Vino Nobile di Montepulciano that are more difficult to find over here. Poliziano also sources grapes from another charming hilltop town, Cortona, which they craft a 100% Merlot from, though I haven’t tried it yet I am sure it is delicious. This recent tasting has really got me itching to re-visit Italy and Tuscany soon, I am so ready for Covid to be in the rear view mirror, and wines like this have me dreaming of future travels.
($35 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive