Montepulciano is a vigorous red grape variety that is indigenous to Italy (most likely the Abruzzo region) and is widely planted across central Italy (about 30,000 HA), especially in the regions of Abruzzo (along the 42nd parallel north) under the name “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo”. According to scientifically researched volume “Wine Grapes” authored by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz who states “beside Italy, it is also grown in California, Australia and New Zealand, notably from Hans Herzog.
It is a grape variety that results in deeply coloured wines with robust tannins. On account of the wide diffusion of Montepulciano grapes, the quality levels of the wines made out of them varies considerably – hence, you need to know which producers to trust and buy from.
Hans pioneered Montepulciano in Marlborough (41.5th parallel south) back in 1996 knowing that if he gets that late ripening variety physiologically mature, he will hold the ‘green card’ to plant many other late ripening grape varieties in his vineyard. Needless to say it was a success and 24 years later enjoys a cult status and is one of our most iconic and well known varieties across the world. It was soon named as one of the 50 best new world grape varieties by Jancis Robinson and made its entrance to the book “1001 wines you must try before you die”.
Montepulciano is one of our favourite grapes to pick and a beautiful sight to see it hanging so majestically in the vineyard. Big compact bunches, with medium sized grapes and an intense colour and wonderfully thick skin (providing more colour, texture and protection against diseases). It is one of the last varieties we pick as it needs a long ripening season and our warm alluvial soil. During the growing season immense vineyard work goes into curating this grape and taming it to the lowest yield where no cost or time is spared.
Winemaking is totally natural. Grapes are destemmed and protected and cooled with dry ice to be left on a cold soak for 5 to 6 days. Temperature controlled long indigenous wild fermentation of 3 weeks and post-fermentation macerations encourage a slow, soft extraction of colour and flavour aiding to the richness and longevity of the wine. Our traditional, manual bag press ensures a gentle handling of the wine. From there it is transferred into French oak barriques to mature for 30 months. The Montepulciano is like all our reds bottled without fining or filtration to retain the beautiful aromas.
It will be some time until Hans is releasing the 2020 vintage but the current vintage 2015 in the words of Bob Campbell “the best New Zealand grown Montepulciano” is available. Not for the faint hearted, our Montepulciano is bursting with dark cherries, blackberries and luscious juicy plums, underpinned by dark chocolate and a hint of chilli. A vibrant powerhouse enveloped by soft tannins and mouth-watering acidity, expressing a seductive and elegant wine made to age gracefully for many years to come.
Bob Campbell Review
Montepulciano 2015 – 96 points
“Big, rich, juicy, almost cuddly Montepulciano with dried fruit, cassis, ripe plum, chocolate, mocha and spicy oak flavours. Deliciously drinkable now but with development potential. The best New Zealand grown Montepulciano I've tasted”