It’s Back…I can finally taste wine again, and high time, too! Duchman Spino Montepulciano is here.

Finally, I can say my taste buds are back and in shape again. It’s be a long hard month or more. It all started on February 13th, Valentine’s Day eve. I knew the feeling in the back of my throat that traveled up into my nose and down into my chest. It started four long weeks a winter illness. It was almost three years since I was taken down by a similar cold after a long international flight. This monthlong ordeal included two near recuperations only to be followed by relapse.

At least now, I’m being optimistic since wine is tasting as good as ever, and it’s high time. After the Whole Foods Market Bordeaux Twitter Tasting two weeks ago, I roamed the store more or less in a antihistime-induced daze. While passing though the wine section, I found a bottle of Duchman Family Winery 2009 Spino Montepulciano. But, I didn’t open it then as I would have really enjoyed it.. I knew from my Bordeaux tasting experience that evening that my senses at that time indicated to me a close affinity between wine and battery acid.

The opportunistic find of the Duchman Montipulciano made me think again about what an opportunistic time it is in Texas for wine. We now have the opportunity to sample and taste many new wines grown and produced in Texas that are “outside the box” of the standard California set of Chardonnay, Cabernet and Merlot. But, why Montepulciano?

The Montepulciano grape is widespread across much of Italy. It’s widely planted throughout central and southern reaches of the country, most notably in Abruzzi, Latium, Marche, Molise, Umbria and Apulia, and is a permitted variety in DOC wines produced in 20 of Italy’s 95 provinces particularly those in the south characterized as warm wine growing areas. Under these conditions, Montepulciano can produce deeply colored and well extracted wines, with moderate acidity and reasonable alcohol levels.This makes it one of the most adaptable of Italian red grape varieties. However, it ripens late and is thus not suitable for the cooler northern regions of Italy. Well, Piedmonte’s loss is our gain! This imprecisely why the Montepulciano grape was brought to Texas: the quest for grapes that are better adapted to grow under the warm Texas sun.

There’s another interesting aspect of the Montipulciano grape. It’s confusion.

Montepulciano is the name of both a grape variety and a town in Tuscany. This can cause problems as the wine and the town are not connected. There is a red wine called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which is in fact made from the Sangiovese grape variety around the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany. Montepulciano the grape variety has its most noteworthy expression is in the wine Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo from the mountainous region of Abruzzi on the Adriatic coast of Central Italy.

Montepulcianos are typically full bodied with deep colour, spicy and dark fruit flavors.They can improve with some bottle age, but as young wines made in a new world, fruit-forward style, they can be great accompaniment to pasta, particularly if it’s pasta made with a deep rich red tomato sauce. They also work well with hearty Italian cuisine or with hard and flavorful cheeses.

In this case, the Duchman Montipulciano was as promised: dark, well extracted and crisp with acidity. It was near opaque from the presence of dark purple pigment extracted from the ripened grapes. The Duchman Montepulciano had plentiful dark fruit flavor that landed on my palate in the vicinity of ripe red-meat, black-skinned plum and was accompanied with a pleasant aromatic, floral note on the nose and lingering spicy finish. It paired well with my pasta with red sauce with mushrooms and garlic, but would have also worked well with a mixed grill of chicken, quail and Italian pork sausage. I guess I need another bottle for that.

Here are some addition details on the Duchman Montepulciano:

Vineyard: Reddy Vineyards located in Brownfield, Texas. The elevation of Reddy Vineyards is 3300 feet. The soil structure of the vineyard is red sandy loam top soil with moisture retaining limestone sub-soil. For list of grapes grown at Reddy Vineyards, click here.

Appellation: Texas High Plains AVA

Bottled: July 2010; total production: 800 Cases

Aging: Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in American and French Oak for 9 months. Alcohol %: 12.5


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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.