MONTEPULCIANO AND ITS WINESRecords show that since the early Middle Ages the vineyards of Mons Politianus have produced excellent wines. In the mid-16th century Sante Lancerio, cellarman of Pope Paul III Farnese, praised Montepulciano perfect in both winter and summer, aromatic, fleshy, never sour, nor brightly-coloured, because it is a wine fit for Noblemen - for the tables of noblemen, although the earliest labels read simply Rosso Scelto di Montepulciano.Moving on from the Middle Ages to the 17th century, Francesco Redi, renowned doctor and naturalist but also a poet, thoroughly praised the wine in his dithyrambic ode "Bacchus in Tuscany" (1685) in which Bacchus and Ariadne extol the finest Tuscan wines. The poem ends:Montepulciano is the king of all wines! The poem enjoyed considerable success and was passed on from one court to another until it fell into the hands of William III of England, Scotland and Ireland. King William's preference for Tuscan wines may well be the result of Redieuros writings which made them famous and is demonstrated by the journey of an English delegation in 1669 to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to obtain Moscadello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano for the English court.The wine continued to be praised throughout its history and in the 19th century the success of some wineries in important mid-century competitions was balanced by the severe opinion of His British Majesty's winemaker at the Vienna exhibition in 1873, when he complained that the single sample of Montepulciano present was mediocre enough to raise a few doubts about Redieuros praise. Montepulciano's history has always been closely linked to the fame of its vines and wine. According to ancient legend Montepulciano was supposedly founded according to the will of the Etruscan king, Lars Porsenna, who is said to have left Chiusi to settle on the hill of Mons Mercurius, with the other inhabitants of Chiusi who later changed the name to Mont Politicus.Wine has been a part of Montepulciano's history since its earliest origins, as is demonstrated by the kylix (wine cup) with red figures made in Chiusi and discovered in 1868, along with numerous bronze objects, in an Etruscan tomb near the Tuscan town. The kylix depicts Flufluns, the Etruscan Bacchus, god of wine, playing at cottabo (a wine game) with a maenad.In his "Storie" (V, 33) Livy mentions that the Gauls were attracted down into Italy by the wine of these hills: a certain Arrunte, an Etrucan from Chiusi, let them taste the wine in order to convince them to cross the Alps thus enabling him to avenge his Locumone, over a simple question of jealousy.However the oldest document referring to the wine of Montepulciano dates back to 789: the cleric Arnipert offered the church of San Silvestro or San Salvatore in Lanciniano, on Mt. Amiata, a portion of land with vineyards on it inside the castle of Policiano. Later in his "Historical and geographical dictionary of Tuscany" Repetti mentioned a document dating back to 1350 in which the terms for trade and exportation of Montepulciano wine were established.In the early 20th century Vino Nobile di Montepulciano seemed to be a thing of the past, until the first market of typical local wines held in Siena in 1933, organised by the National Market-Exhibition Body for typical fine wines; Cantina Fanetti, one of the wineries still active in Montepulciano, presented a fine red wine which met with general approval. Their example was followed by other wineries and in 1937 a cooperative was formed with the aim of forming a structure for selling wine made by smaller growers. Most of the wine made was Chianti; there was only a small quantity of Nobile. Today, though, the cooperative produces the greatest quantity of bottled Nobile.D.O.C. AND D.O.C.G. STATUSThe 1960s saw a reawakening of winegrowing directed especially towards the production of Vino Nobile rather than Chianti. State and EEC contributions which enabled the wineries to convert the vineyards according to the requirements specified by the DOC (1966) allowed new wineries to enter the market. Recognition of the DOCG came in 1980 and Vino Nobile began its new life.In addition the DOC awarded to Rosso di Montepulciano enabled it to remain distinct from the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano in terms of yield per hectare, alcohol content and ageing, while the production area is the same. It is up to individual producers to decide whether to adhere to one or other of the two DOCs according to the aspect of their land, seasonal weather conditions and all other elements which make the grapes more suited for the production of one type of wine or the other.