Avignonesi – the re-invention of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Posted on December 17 2020
The region of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (very easy to get confused with the grape variety called Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which has nothing to do with it) first got an honourable mention 2000 years ago in Titus Livius’ History of Rome. One of the first regions to be granted D.O.C in 1966, it was the very first to get the upgrade to D.O.C.G. in 1980.
The place in short, has history of the better kind. Yet the region has always been overshadowed by its grander, showier neighbour Brunello di Montalcino, and has suffered from notorious quality variation across its estates.
These days a handful of estates are really raising the quality bar – none more so than Avignonesi.
Founded in 1974, named after one of the founding family members, Avignonesi first established a reputation for big, brooding red and barrel-fermented Chardonnay and put the Vino Nobile region on the map once again. The estate was later bought in 2009 by Belgian heiress and shipping magnate Virginie Saverys, and thus began a total re-invention…
Top of the to do list was the conversion of all the vineyards to organic viticulture, the replanting of some plots to Sangiovese and acquisition of more vineyards. Virginie committed to Sangiovese as the only grape to be used for the Vino Nobile and Rosso di Montepulciano. She recruited organics specialist Adriano Zago to oversee the process of conversion and organic certification which finally came in 2016. In 2012 she decided to follow Biodynamic practices in both vineyard and cellar.
Such a commitment creates significant costs – around 1,500 euros extra per hectare of vines – and they have 165 hectares. Why? What you’re saving on chemical treatments you are more than spending on labour costs. These days with the vineyards alive with bees, flowers and microbial life, the soils are healthy and Virginie’s goal of a wine that reflects its place and grape (rather than cellarly shenanigans) is flourishing.
In this cellar, indigenous yeasts and traditional large Slavonian oak “Botti” gently shape the Sangiovese, allowing its pure cherry fruit, lightly herby, tea leaf edge and freshness to shine. Most recently DaDi – a pure Sangiovese fermented in two different types of clay amphorae has joined the club – the place just doesn’t stand still.
Her commitment to pure Sangiovese in an appellation where the rules allow 30% of other permitted grape varieties is quite rare, but reflects her desire for a refined, elegant and expressive style of Vino Nobile rather than that dark brooding blockbuster predecessor.
Today Avignonesi is the largest organic-certified estate in Italy and biggest estate within the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano region. All the wines are certified organic and vegan friendly.
Delicious with Turkey and trimmings:
Perfect for Boxing day cold cuts:
Rosso di Montepulciano 2018
Rosso di Montepulciano 2015 Magnum (in store)