General List Gem - Che Sorpresa!
Lupi Reali Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2015
No one is more surprised than I am to bring you yet another General List Gem at so great a price and so soon. But, that’s life. A bucket full of surprises.
And this buddy, let me tell you, surprised the hell out of me.
I’d been eyeing it for a while, every time I walked past the Italian section at my local LCBO on my way to Vintages. Its green screw top and bold ORGANIC label calling out to me from the shelves. (Could it have been the wolf on the label? I’ll never tell.) But it had a little bit of the too-good-to-be-true about it, so I kept walking past it.
That is, until a few weeks ago and now here we are. And let me tell you: this might not be the best wine you’ll ever drink, but it’s damn good. It’s organic, and you know I love organic wines (let’s save the planet, one glass at a time), but it’s also typical. It’s what you expect when you open up a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo – and that kind of typicity isn’t easily found in $10 wines.
Montepulciano is also the perfect example of where things get loopy (Lupi?) in Italian wines. In this case, it’s the name of a widely planted grape grown in the region of Abruzzo in Central Italy, which is bordered by mountains and a sea and is known for creating food-friendly pizza wines. But there’s also another wine that goes by the same name: Vino Nobile de Montepulciano. In this case, Montepulciano is a town and the grape is Sangiovese (think Chianti and Tuscany). See, confusing. (Although, note the placement of de/d’ – this means that it’s of a place and the words before indicate the grape or style of wine. Maybe that’s more confusing?)
But that’s just Italy.
Luckily, both wines are delicious. And in this case, this organic Montepulciano D’Abruzzo punches ridiculously above its weight. If you’re a fan of darker fruits, soft tannins, and pizza, I think you’ll be into this. If you’re into food and wine, then you’ll be into this. And honestly, if you came over with a bottle, I wouldn’t be mad at all.
Nose: Dark cherry fruit, blackberries, dark, dark fruits. Leather, black licorice, violets, and a bit of volatile acidity but it’s not crazy or even bad. It definitely smells like Italy, with a touch of herbaciousness - like a mentholyptus-infused cherry lozenge after a gourmet hot chocolate.
Palate: Chocolatey dark fruit, cherries, herbs and mint. The palate totally follows the nose. It’s got a bit of acidity, for sure, and the tannins are non-invasive. It just tastes good - like leathery, violet licorice with dark fruit compote. It’s drinkable and tasty, maybe a bit sticky but not in a bad way - in the way that dark chocolate sometimes gets when you slowly melt a piece in your mouth (no, just me?). I mean, it’s not going to blow your mind, but it will go light on your wallet and pair with almost anything you want to eat. Even nothing.