Cantina Tollo Cagiolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 is the "Red Italian Varietal" Decanter International trophy winning wine of 2008. One of only 2 Italian wines to scoop an International Trophy beating out Nebbiolo and Sangiovese wines for this coveted title. Well, coveted-ish. There's no denying this is a fabulous wine, I tasted it and it's excellent, great structure, fruit and length but the best single varietal wine in Italy, against the 2004 Barolos it aint.
The Decanter awards are an interesting exercise, this year 9,219 wines were entered and around 1000 from Italy so old Italia was very well represented but these wines are sent via the producers themselves. No Gaja, No Giacosa, No Tua Rita, No Antinori, No Quintarelli, really, very few big Italian names bothered to pay their £80 and send their wines into the judges. However, of 1000 Italian wines this was the best of the bunch and 1000 wines is no small sample! Try telling that to the folks of Burgundy and Oregan who watched a Spatburgunder walk away with best Pinot Noir over £10!
Casting aspersions on Decanter's results aside, this is, nevertheless, a fabulous example of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from my favourite recent vintage. It's also a QPR doozy. I don't talk much about The Cellar Door on this blog, mainly because wine writers in general always face assaults over their bias. Whether that is palate bias, monetary bias or regional bias but in cases where I feel the people who read the blog will truly benefit I will mention The Cellar Door. We recently added this wine and are selling it much cheaper than you can find in the UK for £15, that's about 20% less than standard retailers and if you've never tried a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which most people have not, this is the one to buy. We're knocking it down, when really we should be marking it up, to get our customers to try this wine. OK TCD chat over!
The awards themselves for the Italian section may have been a touch dubious but the advise given in Decanter magazine was spot on and I echo their comments and urge people to check out Italy's best regional grapes. Italian wine has come on leaps and bounds in the last 5 years and pretty much all 20 counties are now producing world class wine. Decanter recommends you try Fiano, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Nero d'Avola and Morellino di Scansano as I've been banging on about for the past 12 months, so if you don't trust this 28 year old British wino then maybe you'll trust the Wine Masters! After all, and I quote one of the esteemed Wine Masters .... "Don't underestimate just how good Umbria's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo and Sagrantino are becoming". Ouch! Well, we all make mistakes eh! Thank god for bloggers.
Cantina Tollo Cagiolo Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2005 - BUY - €18
Dark ruby red in the glass with purple highlights, this wine has one of the most expressive MdA noses I've witnessed all year. The oak is detectable but very pleasant with notes of blackberries and chocolate. On the palate the wine is full bodied, perfectly balanced, ingrained and rounded tannins with fruit holding in the mid palate and a long finish. Montepulciano Perfection. 93 Points
Even in the 3 years I've been in Italy it seems Montepulciano d'Abruzzo has got better, in the last 5 its gone from an "also grape" to probably the hottest grape in Italy. Continually I am surprised at the quality and fair prices of these wines and from about 10-12 different producers I've had this year only one failed to impress me. I see this wine becoming a more serious option over the next few years and prices going up, also capable of some aging this wine is a case buy.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Italian Wine Shop - €18
Americans - Dont know?
Brits - The Cellar Door - £15
Australians - Dont know?
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What is your wine bias? We all have one, of course I am biased to the wines of Italy because of total immersion and exposure, I am biased against anything that comes close to carrot like! What is going to immediately turn you on or off a wine?
Who sells this wine in the US, Australia?
Andy Murray lost.