You say Montepulciano, I say … Montepulciano?

You’ve probably heard me say before that Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is one of my favorite affordable Italian red wines.

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I like Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, too, and its only slightly less noble sibling, Rosso di Montepulciano.

And then there’s also the pricey Brunello di Montalcino and its sibling Rosso di Montalcino, but that’s a whole different story for another day.

All right, this is the kind of confusing wine-nerd stuff that puts newbies off wine appreciation altogether. Along our way to talking about today’s featured wine, Dei Rosso di Montepulciano, let’s try to sort out the differences among these similar-sounding Italian reds.

I think it’ll be worth the effort to find clarity, because these wines are all different, but there’s some kinship in terms of being approachable, food-friendly options that are very easy to like.

Vineyard location

First, there’s the matter of location: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino, and Rosso di Montalcino all come from Tuscany. They all are made predominantly from Tuscany’s Sangiovese grape, and that brings them together with some family resemblance to Tuscany’s iconic Chianti.

Grape variety

In other words, all those wines come from Tuscan sub-regions called Montalcino or Montepulciano, right? Well, hold on a minute. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, that delicious cheap red that goes great with food and can often be found for less than $10? That’s different. This Montepulciano is the name of a grape. It’s not related to Sangiovese, and it comes from a different region, mostly in Abruzzo over on the other side of the Appenines from Tuscany.

I know this is confusing, but I swear I’m not trying to prank you. Every one of these wines is a favorite, a wine that makes me happy, and I think they’ll do that for you too. It’s worth tasting and getting to know them, and I wish you joy in the journey.

Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) vines near the hilltop village Montepulciano in Tuscany

Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) vines near the hilltop village Montepulciano in Tuscany

Today’s featured wine is a Rosso di Montepulciano, which like its more pricey relative Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, comes from an ancient Tuscan hilltop village called Montepulciano. It’s made from Sangiovese, mostly, but just to make things a little more confusing still, locals here call it Prugnolo Gentile. A taste will reveal its kinship to Chianti, though, and that’s a good thing. You’ll find my tasting report below.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Dei 2020 Rosso di Montepulciano Toscana ($18.99)

Dei Rosso di Montepulciano

Billed as organically cultivated, Dei Rosso di Montepulciano is predominantly Prugnolo Gentile (the traditional name for Sangiovese in this region) with splashes of 5% each Canaiolo Nero and Merlot. Its aromas are full and appealing, showing the typical ripe cherries and plums of Sangiovese with a hint of dried fruit and just a whiff of spicy oak from its three months in large oak casks. On the palate it’s bright and dry, juicy cherry flavors framed by brisk acidity, with soft tannins becoming more perceptible in the long finish. 14% alcohol. U.S. importer: Skurnik Wines, NYC. (Feb. 7, 2023)

FOOD MATCH: The back label suggests a match with red meats, flavorful salamis and aged cheeses, and those will all work well; we enjoyed it, too, with a traditional companion, pasta with a rich, garlicky tomato sauce.

WHEN TO DRINK: I don’t see it as a long-term ager, and it’s drinking nicely now, but with good cellar conditions it should be safe to hold it for two or three more years.

VALUE:’s $18 average U.S. retail matches my local price. It’s well worth the tab for an excellent, approachable Sangiovese-based Tuscan red.

Learn more about this wine on the Dei website (in English).

Read about Caterina Dei and her family’s wines at the Skurnik website.

Check prices and find vendors for Dei Rosso di Montepulciano on

Learn about Rosso di Montepulciano at this Wine-Searcher link to find listings for dozens of other wines from the region.

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to learn more about the Sangiovese grape (also known in this part of Tuscany as Prugnolo Gentile), and find listings for many more wines of this variety.


Wine Focus February 2023 – Benchmarks of Sangiovese

As a Wine Focus benchmark wine for tasting, Chianti Classico is still often very affordable. Brunello di Montalcino not so much, but the Rossos are often good value. What’s interesting about Sangiovese is how little of it is grown elsewhere. It’s almost Tuscany or nothing.

What’s your go-to bottling of Sangiovese based wine? WineLovers’ Wine Focus guru David M. Bueker’s is Felsina, a producer that offers three Chianti Classicos at various price points, plus a (formerly known as) Super Tuscan that is not wildly expensive. Where’s the red sauce?

You’re welcome to participate. Here’s how: Open a bottle of a Chianti Classico or other Sangiovese-based wine this month. Bring your comments and questions, and join us in Wine Focus for February 2023!


Today’s Sponsor:

Explore Wine-Searcher is the place to go online if you want to find where to buy a particular wine that interests you. What’s more, offers so much more. It’s well worth a visit just to discover its many features, including its popular list of the world’s Top 10 Best Value Wines.


Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!


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