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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Is Montepulciano actually a varietal, or a Sangiovese clone, or just another local name for Sangiovese?
—John D., Sayville, N.Y.
This gets confusing pretty quickly. Montepulciano is a town in southern Tuscany, which gives its name to a Tuscan red wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It’s made primarily from the Sangiovese grape, and many are high quality and fairly expensive (Avignonesi, Boscarelli and Fattoria del Cerro are among the top producers).
Montepulciano is also the name of a grape, one that’s different from Sangiovese. It’s grown in the Abruzzo region of Italy, where it makes a wine called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This hearty red is more of a value wine (try versions from Illuminati and San Lorenzo).
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