Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Wine >
May 13, 2008 06:21 PM

California Montepulciano

I'm doing a tasting that highlights house style from Illuminati in Abruzzo and I'd like to do a comparison with a local version of Montepulciano.

Does anyone know of any wineries in California that make a good Montepulciano?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. None that I know of. That said, no Italian varietals produced in California are very good. Cal/Ital Sangiovese is horrible; some of the Barberas from Amador Co. are OK.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Husky

      >>> . . . no Italian varietals produced in California are very good. <<<

      Sad -- but oh so true.

      1. re: zin1953

        And I much prefer the French varietals from France to the California versions. At equal price levels below $50, I have found no comparison.

        1. re: zin1953

          I have not tried a lot of Cal Italian wines, but Palmina makes a nice Barbera and I like their Tocai Friulano also.

          1. re: zin1953


            Do you have any thoughts on Unti?

            1. re: StephP

              I've known Mick a long time, and I really like his wines - particularly his Grenache . . .

        2. For the most part Montepulciano is made from Sangiovese, and like Husky said, CA does not produce much Sangiovese, and what they do produce tends to be fairly blah. I think your best bet would be something from Seghesio or Altamura.

          7 Replies
          1. re: dinwiddie

            Italian Vino Nobile de Montepulciano is made from Sangiovese. Montepulciano d' Abruzzo is made from the Montepulciano grape. I do have a bottle of 2002 Monte Volpe, Montepulciano, Mendocino, which I haven't tried yet, but I liked it when I tasted it at the winery. Also, I like CA Sangiovese, which is different from Italian Sangiovese. The CA style is more fruit forward with much more oak. To date, I have tried Sangiovese from 28 different CA producers and there are some I have yet to taste. Altamura and Ramazzotti are my favorites, but Seghesio, Vino Noceto, Montevina Terra d'Oro, Macchia, Pietra Santa and others are reliably good. Some examples I bought had really good vintages but are not consistent. I generally drink wines from Italy including Borolo, Barbaresco, Brunello, Tuscan Blends, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Valpolicella, Vino Nobile, Dolcetto, Chianti, etc. in loose order of preference. However, I always look forward to a bottle of CA Sangiovese from any of the wineries I've listed.

            1. re: BN1

              You are correct, I overlooked the Abruzzo in the OP's post. I would be suprised if you could find a CA version.

              Personally, I much prefer Italian Sangiovese to California, but that is personal taste.

              1. re: dinwiddie

                Yes, I'm sure the Monte Volpe Montepulciano from Mendocino County, CA is nothing like d'Abruzzo. In fact on their website they state that their version is "bigger" than its Italian cousin, just like my Sangiovese comparison.

              2. re: BN1

                I agree with you that while California styles of Sangiovese and Barbera are generally different from Italian versions, I have found some that I really like. I particularly like a number of the Vino Noceto Sangioveses and Seghesio, so I will keep an eye out to taste others on your list.

                1. re: souvenir

                  I strongly recommend Vino Noceto particularly their block
                  designate sangioveses: Marmellata (use sangiovese
                  grosso), Dos Oakies, and Reward Ranch. They can stand up
                  to the best Italian sangioveses (did a blind tasting to prove it).

                  Also, Il Gioiello winery in Amador has a Montepulciano
                  varietal. I have not tried it yet. It is a small winery, but
                  the wines I have tried from them have been pretty good.

                  1. re: bclevy

                    I also really like Vino Noceto's Marmellata. My favorite from their new releases this year is the Reward Ranch (2nd year they've made this one, IIRC).

                    If people are close enough to check out the winery, for everyday drinking, I am also really happy with their their new release (2006) blend of sangio, barbera and ? called Nutz. I don't always love Nutz versions, but I think this one is drinking really nicely right now. And for $80/case at the winery, it's currently at the top of my list for best value everyday wines.

                    1. re: souvenir

                      And on the premium end, we opened a magnum of the 2001 Riserva tonight, and while it was good, I regretted opening it this soon. I'll wait at least a year, maybe two before opening the next one.

            2. I know I'm way too late to the game on this one. But Runquist makes a good Sangiovese for the price ($18, I think). It tastes NOTHING like an Italian Sangiovese. But it is very good, nonetheless.

              3 Replies
              1. re: whiner

                That's the important difference . . . "nice wine"; not necessarily "nice Sangiovese."

                1. re: zin1953

                  Yes, certainly. As you mention in another thread it is a good CA wine. But there is absolutely no way on Earth I would reccomend it to someone looking for a suitable replacement for an Italian Sangiovese except for educational purposes to show how differnt the same grape tastes from one region to another... but as I said, no one who didn't already know would be able to tell that there is any relationship whatsoever between Runquist's Sangiovese and an Italian version.

                  1. re: whiner

                    Hmmm, whiner. Your post intrigued me, so I opened a bottle of 2002 Pedroncelli, “Alto Vineyards”, Dry Creek Valley - Geyserville, CA ($8) and a bottle of 2003 Banfi, Chianti Classico - Montachino, IT ($10) to compare. I used Riedel Vinum Sangiovese glasses for both with some salami, salad and a pasta containing tomato sauce with Italian sausage. Both lacked much nose, but the Banfi was a slightly darker color. There were differences in the flavors with the food: the Pedroncelli had a hint of cherry flavor and the Banfi had just a hint of perhaps a chocolate note. Really, there were very few differences for two wines produced so far apart, probably in completely different soils. Only you, Zin and a few others with highly defined palates would be able to identify the Italian wine from its California counterpart. 99.9% of consumers would not know one was Italian and one was Californian. These are not fine Chiantis, Brunellos or Super Tuscans to be savored, but rather, these are “food wines“. Thanks to you guys, I now have three bottles of wine open, as I was working on a 2000 Marchesi de’Frescobaldi/Robert Mondavi, Lucente, which is really delicious now.