Montepulciano: Tricky to Say and Even Trickier to Make

There’s something lovely about being tucked up inside, listening to the rain on the roof — especially if you’ve got a nice bottle of red and someone to share it with. Rainy weekends — which we’ve had a whole string of this winter — are the perfect time to indulge in something a little bit special, like our Montepulciano

Our Monte has a special place in our hearts. Grown on Kahaurangi’s original home block, the vines are nestled right near our winery in Upper Moutere. Montepulciano is certainly one of our most interesting wines, but, to be honest, it’s a bit of a labour of love. In fact, our growers find it quite the pain in the neck. That’s partly because this grape is harvested right at the end of the season, as late as May. All the other grapes are done and dusted, then everyone has to gear up again for this slow ripener. 

Montepulciano is a particularly tricky crop to ripen. The grapes grow in such huge bunches. Sadly, although that might sound fantastic, these all have to be thinned back to around half the size, otherwise the fruit doesn’t ripen properly. Different weather conditions mean that the yield can vary wildly from year to year, in spite of our growers’ careful attention. Perhaps it’s not such a surprise that so little Montepulciono is grown in New Zealand — only around nine hectares in total. We have just one hectare of vines, with Monte making up only one percent of our total production. 

So why do we bother with this rather precocious variety? The answer is very simple. It’s because when conditions are right, we end up with a wine that is absolutely divine. Great vintages, like 2020, give us a completely different style of wine to anything else produced in New Zealand. It’s a great reward for all the hard work that goes into creating this special Nelson wine.

Although it’s still a little early for this vintage — it really should be cellared for  2-5 years — we are thrilled with how last year’s Monte is drinking. As Dave Barrett says, ‘We’re really excited about our 2020 vintage. It’s possibly our best yet. We just wish we had more.’ This wine is certainly living up to the tasting notes on the back of the bottle.  

Intense inky purple in colour, this rare New Zealand wine shows a distinct nose of ripe dark berries with subtle savoury notes. Bold black cherry flavours abound with enhanced fruit tannins and generous long palate.

Montepulciano is the perfect drop to add a little cheer to a winter’s day. It goes brilliantly with rich food, like venison, lamb backstrap or gamey meat. And it’s a fantastic match with blue cheeses. 

Kahurangi’s Montepulciano is quite unlike the Montepulciano d’abruzzo from Central Italy, where the wine originates. Our Nelson climate and different viticultural approach combine to create a rare little beauty, and that’s what makes us so proud and excited. There’s only one problem — we never have enough to go around. If you can get your hands on a bottle, you might want to hide it away. This special Nelson wine really is one to savour.

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