Oct 132016
 

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the first and oldest DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controlata e Garantita) in Italy, held a birthday party this weekend to celebrate fifty years of making wine under the stringent requirements of Europe’s appellation system.

As you might expect, the party featured fabulous regional cuisine, a multitude of wine personalities from around the world, and spectacular tastings of both modern vintages and bottles that harkened back to that day in 1966 when it all began. And the town was aglow with smiles and toasts.

The day began with a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Federation of DOCs, the organization that administrates all of the regional wines of Italy, followed by a tasting of Vino Nobile from vintages as far back as that original 1966. Stunning wines.

On the musical side there was a performance of original music for the DiVin Orchestra of Montepulciano, made up of instruments created exclusively from materials found in a winery, like barrels, for drums, bottles for xylophones and flutes, and even hoses and funnels for trumpets and trombones. A later concert with more traditional instruments featured an ode to Montepulciano, with text written by Mr, Contucci himself.

Of course, the town of Montepulciano began long before that. Its City Hall was built by the Medicis hundreds of years ago, and the town itself goes back more than 2000 years. Its strategic hilltop made it an important satellite between Rome and Florence, between the Vatican and the Medicis. Some of the performances took place in the charming theater that was built nearly two hundred years ago in the form of La Scala in Milan.

All of that history was on display this weekend. The main piazza of the town, where the Cathedral looms over one side, and the City Hall defends another, crowds of celebrants cheered and toasted the ceremonies. And a grand procession led up to the very top of Montepulciano, where the old Fortezza was renovated as the new home of the Consorzio di Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the now fifty year-old organization that manages the wine production for the region. The fortress, originally built to protect the town, now houses a glorious new visitor center built on the ruins of an Etruscan wine cellar, which are visible through the glass floor of the new tasting room.

Just below the piazza, the art museum proudly displayed its most recent discovery–a Caravaggio that had gone unnoticed as a part of the collection for many years, hidden behind a thick layer of dust. When a visiting expert peered carefully through the centuries of accumulation, there was huge excitement. It was, in fact, a Caravaggio. The painting now enjoys a private room in the museum–and rewards those who spend the effort to seek it out.

Much like Montepulciano itself.

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