For reasons of convenience and logistics I was forced to shop for wine, recently, in A Store, as opposed to THE Store where I normally shop for wine and know well the lay of the land. THE Store is much larger, with a deeper and wider selection, much wider than the store I found myself in. And besides having a potential selection that was weak, they were out of darn near everything anyway! I couldn’t leave empty handed, I couldn’t violate my Cheapskate price ceiling, so I took a stab at this Italian I knew nothing about, but was on sale for $7.99 for a 1.5 bottle.
I’ve learned, since, that “Montepulciano” is an Italian wine term that has the potential to mislead and confuse. Here’s why: There is a village in the Tuscan region of Italy called Montepulciano. Tuscany is on the north west side of “the boot”, roughly near Florence. That region is known for Chianti and several other reds including Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a dry red wine. Clear enough, right? Hah! It turns out that clear across “the boot”, on the Adriatic side, and farther south is the region known as Abruzzo that produces wine from a grape variety known as Montepulciano. So it’s a place and a grape. Still sort of clear, right? Hah! The Tuscan wine labeled Vino Nobile di Montepulciano isn’t made from the grape Montepulciano! It’s from the Sangiovese grape! And I thought it was the French that lay awake at night thinking of ways to make American wine buyers feel stupid! Ho mal di testa!
I couldn’t find much about Citra, though. They have a nice, slick website, but it offers no history. They describe themselves as the “most important producer” in their area, and mention their wines have been “served to Prince Charles”. Well how ’bout that! Prince Charles drinking a Cheapskate wine! No mention, though, if he asked for seconds.
That night, back at Buckingham Palace, I opened my new find to try with Wife and Son. Generally, when I pour a glass of wine I like to just enjoy the aroma for a few seconds before sipping. Half the pleasure, at least, is the smell-trying to identify the various elements of the “nose.” This particular pour, I stuck my nose in, and said, “leather…new shoes”. Son said “farm”, and he was right. Plowed earth, musk, that mixture of hay and grain and animals. And new shoes. Son did not get the new shoes association, because it’s not a smell in his file of memory smells. To him, new shoes smell like sneakers-rubber. To me, it’s the smell of the long ago closed shoe repair shop at end of our street when I was a youngin’– leather, dye, glue. A pleasant, evocative, fond memory set of smells, as is “farm.” But I’m not sure if it’s a set of smells I want to drink! The wine had the expected fruit tastes, plum, black cherry but also a pungency, as predicted by the smell. Son liked it, thought it different than any we’ve had of late, and found the unusual smells and tastes made it more interesting. Wife was O.K. with it, thought I was delirious regarding the “shoes” smell, but agreed with “farm.” I had only one glass and struggled to finish it. I tried getting a hold of Prince Charles to see if he picked up on the new shoes smell, and if he liked that in a wine, but he wouldn’t take my call. Too busy. Something about a big wedding. Hey, I wonder what wine they served?