Get ready to explore this exciting, new Barossa varietal.

If you love talking about new varietals in Australia and are looking to explore interesting wines that are different, this guide to Montepulciano and what food to match it with is perfect for you.

Montepulciano is Italy’s second most widely planted variety (after Sangiovese) and is found over much of Central and Southern Italy.

We planted the rustic, full-bodied variety in our Southern Barossa vineyard in 2011 amidst great anticipation, with our first vintage bottled in 2015.

We are proud to announce that our Purple Hands Wines 2016 Barossa Valley Montepulciano was awarded a bronze medal at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show in 2018 and recently received 96 points from Wine Showcase Magazine and 93 points from Patrick Eckel.

Not all Montepulciano are what they appear!

But first of all, let’s clear up some confusion about ‘Monte’, as it’s come to be known in Australia.

Yes, Montepulciano is both a grape variety and a medieval town in Tuscany, but interestingly, the two are not related!

You have Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which is the wine made from Montepulciano grapes. Not to be confused with the Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is made from predominantly Sangiovese grapes and is named after the village it is produced in.

Pronounced Mon Ta Pull Chee Ah No, this grape variety was named after the Tuscan parish of Montepulciano.  

The most famous Montepulciano wines come from the east coast of Italy, specifically the Abruzzo region. Here, Montepulciano grapes are planted on the low hills and flatlands around the Adriatic coast, and marketed under the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC title.

Montepulciano and the Barossa make a stunning match

Montepulciano is still relatively unknown in Australia, yet is fast growing in popularity with our discerning wine drinkers. But, you may be wondering why it has found its way to the beautiful Barossa Valley in South Australia.

It’s all about climate. This particular red variety thrives in warm dry climates and ripens late in the season, holding it’s natural acid and handling the heat well.  It is not suitable for the cooler northern regions of its home country, Italy, and hence why it is planted in the southern regions of Italy.

So you can see, this is exactly why it’s found its way to the southern Barossa and our Purple Hands Wines vineyard, a warm dry region, and has become an award-winning member of our premium, boutique range.

Montepulciano tasting notes: smooth, rich & intense

Montepulciano wines are characterised by rich layers of black cherry, black pepper and dark plum.

Compared to most Italian varieties, Montepulciano has moderately low acidity and milder tannins.  This grape produces smooth drinkable wines with good acidity, and soft silky tannins that fill the mouth and help it age over 4 -5 years in the bottle.

Montepulciano has a tendency to ripen late in the season in our Southern Barossa vineyard – in mid to late April. It is a high yielding grape variety which leads us to thin the crop each year to achieve the ultimate balance on ripeness, flavour and yields.

The grapes are large and plump with a low skin to juice ratio. However, the skin has a fair amount of pigmented tannins and colour producing phenols that with gentle skin contact during fermentation produce a deep ruby red colour.

Perfect food pairing with Montepulciano

Medium-bodied red wines like Montepulciano generally pair with a wide variety of foods due to their natural elevated acidity and tannin structures.

But Montepulciano is the perfect match to richer and more savoury foods.

Imagine how the rich flavour of the wine will cut through some of the meatiest meats and pair beautifully with caramelised, roasted winter vegetables.

Meat lovers will love to pair it with roasted pork shoulder, beef Bolognese, barbequed beef brisket, braised goat, shepherd’s pie and meat lover’s pizza.

Cheese matches included aged Cheddar, Parmesan, Asiago and Pepper Jack.

For those looking for a vegetarian match, try stuffed baked potato, black bean burgers, roasted mushrooms, pinto beans, wild rice, winter beets, winter farro and sunchokes.

A last note: now it’s time to taste!

If you are intrigued by alternate varieties, and pursue wines that are quite different, we encourage you to sample our After Five Wine Co. Single Vineayrd Montepulciano and enjoy a modern Australian take on this famous Italian variety.

We’ll leave you with a quote that beautifully summaries how our Montepulciano will excite your nose and liven your palate.

A striking young Italian variety finding a home in the Barossa Valley, and what’s not to like? It strikes a dramatic dense purple pose in the glass, the scent is pure La Dolce Vita with exotic spice, black cherry and enduring anise. It flows beautifully across the tongue, smooth, intense but with lively tannins.

Jenny Port

95 points, Halliday Wine Companion

Have you tried Montepulciano? We’d love to know your thoughts on this premium and striking red.


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