The grape is recommended for 20 of Italy's 95 provinces. Up to 10% Sangiovese is permitted to be added to the blend. It is typically a fruity, dry wine with soft tannins, and as such is often consumed young. The Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is classified as DOC and DOCG in Teramo (where it is officially called Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane). If aged by the winery for more than two years, the wine may be labeled "Riserva." This wine should not be confused with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a Tuscan wine made from Sangiovese and other grapes, but not the Montepulciano variety.
The first historic report of the Montepulciano grape in Abruzzo is found in 1793's King Ferdinand the Fourth archivist and librarian, Michele Torcia, book Saggio Itinerario Nazionale pel Paese dei Peligni (National Itinerary in the Peligni Country). During his 1792 journey, Torcia was introduced to the Montepulciano vine and tasted the wine made with it in the Sulmona countryside. How the vine arrived to Sulmona is unknown, however, according to historian and researcher, Professor Franco Cercone, most probably it was brought over from the Montepulciano municipality, in Tuscany, where it was known as Prugnolo, but the name was immediately changed into Montepulciano, as at the time often wines and vines were named after their place of origins.
What matters, however, is that during the beginning of the 19th century the the Montepulciano grew in perfect isolation in the Conca Peligna area of Abruzzo, where it evolved and become a grape with unique characteristics and personality. In fact, Panfilo Serafini, a Sulmona historian (1817-1864) writes in his Monografia Storica di Sulmona (Sulmona Historic Monograph), published in 1854 in Naples' Il Regno delle Due Sicilie Scritto ed Illustrato (The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies Written and Illustrated): "The most common vine is the Montepulciano, harvested either when just ripen, or harvested late ..."
The grape variety is recommended for 20 of Italy's 95 provinces but is most widely planted in the Abruzzi, where it is responsible for the often excellent value Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, and in the Marches, where it is a principal ingredient in such reds as Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno. It is also grown in Molise and Apulia.
The variety ripens too late to be planted much further north, although Montepulciano has recently shown it can yield dependable quantities of deep coloured, well-ripened grapes with good levels of alcohol and extract in Umbria and the Tuscan Maremma.
Follows, by region, a list of all DOC and DOCG is allowed where the use of this vine.
Esino - 60% min. (Alone or in conjunction with the Sangiovese)
Rosso Conero - 85 to 100%
Rosso Piceno - 85 to 100%
Amerini Hills - 35% max.
Colli Martani - 0 to 15%
Lake Corby - 0 to 30%
Offida - 5 0% min.
Orvieto Orvieto Rosso or Red - 0 to 70%
Castelli Romani - 0 to 100% (alone or in combination with Cesanese, Sangiovese, Merlot, Black good)
Cerveteri - 25 to 60%
Colli della Sabina - 15 ÷ 40%
Colli Etruscan Viterbo - 20 ÷ 45%
Cori - 40 to 60%
Tarquinia - 25 to 60%
Vellore - 30 ÷ 50%
Controguerra - 60% min. (In the "red")
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - 90 to 100%
Biferno - 60 ÷ 70%
Molise or del Molise - 85 to 100%
Pentro d'Isernia or Pentro - 45 ÷ 55%
Cacc'e Mmitte Lucera - 25 ÷ 35%
Castel del Monte - 100% max. (Alone or in combination with Uva di Troia and Aglianico)
Gioia del Colle - 4 0 to 50%
Leven - 0 to 40%
Lizzano - 0 to 40%
Rosso di Cerignola - 0 to 15%
San Severo - 70 ÷ 100%
Viticulture and winemaking
The Montepulciano grape has then been cultivated in Abruzzo for over two centuries. Thanks to the peculiar regional microclimate, the vine found a particularly good environment, in which the grape produces great full-bodied, robust wines which are at the same time elegant and pleasantly perfumed. Thus the Montepulciano can be considered an Abruzzo native vine, and currently accounts for around 50% of the regional vineyard, that is, about 18,000 hectares (about 44,500 acres).
It is a medium strength red vine, with medium-large five-pointed leaves, compact, conic pyramid-shaped bunch, often with wings, slightly ovoid berries with consistent skin. It's a late-ripening grape which is usually ready for harvest during mid October. The Montepulciano wine is usually ruby-red with purple highlights and perfume of violet, cherry, wild berries, licorice and tobacco. Though it is good drunk young, is a wine that ages gracefully in bottles.
It is sometimes called Cordisco, Morellone, Primaticcio, and Uva Abruzzi.