Italy’s Tuscany region offers two lesser-known red wines — Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Carmignano — and Tuscany’s most renowned white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano. All three are DOCG wines, the same as Tuscany’s more popular Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wines.
Following are some particulars on these three Tuscan wines and their wine zones:
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
The Montepulciano wine zone, named after the town of Montepulciano, is southeast of the Chianti zone. Vino Nobile’s principal grape is the Prugnolo Gentile (a.k.a. Sangiovese). From a good producer, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano can rival the better Chianti Classicos. Some recommended producers include: Boscarelli, Fattoria Del Cerro, Avignonesi, Lodola Nuova, La Braccesca, Dei, Tenuta Trerose, Fassati, and Poliziano. Vino Nobile producers also make a lighter, readier-to-drink wine, Rosso di Montepulciano.
The Carmignano wine region is directly west of Florence. Although Sangiovese is the main grape of Carmignano — just as it is for Chianti — Cabernet Sauvignon is also one of this wine zone’s traditional grapes. As a result, Carmignano’s taste is rather akin to that of a Chianti with the finesseful touch of a Bordeaux. Two outstanding producers of Carmignano are Villa di Capezzana and Ambra.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
This wine is named for the medieval walled town of San Gimignano, west of the Chianti Classico zone. Vernaccia is generally a fresh white wine with a slightly oily texture and an almond flavor, and it is meant to be drunk young. For an unusual interpretation, try Teruzzi & Puthod’s oak-aged riserva, Terre di Tufo, a pricey but very good Vernaccia (about $18). Most Vernaccias are in the $11 to $13 range. Besides Teruzzi & Puthod, producers to seek are Montenidoli, Mormoraia, Cecchi, and Casale-Falchini.