You cannot say "Tuscany" without also saying "Sangiovese", the king of the native Tuscan grape varieties and also one of the most popular in Italy. But speaking of "Sangiovese" is too generic, because this term encompasses a large number of varieties (or clones) in which it has differentiated over the centuries and in the various territories. One of these is the "Prugnolo Gentile", especially in the Montepulciano area, where it is used to create excellent wines such as the Nobile. A black grape variety whose identity is much debated.
But let's find out together why, what is its history and, above all, what are the characteristics that make it unique!
Prugnolo Gentile: the history of the vine
The origins of Prugnolo Gentile seem to be lost in time and are rather uncertain. According to some, the Sangiovese vine was already cultivated in Tuscany in Roman times. Over the centuries, the Benedictine monks would then perfect the vine creating, thanks to their knowledge and skills, a great variety of Sangiovese wines, which have made Tuscany famous all over the world.
Prugnolo Gentile has been at the center of many debates regarding its origin and its name, which seems to derive from the particularity of its berries: in fact, during the ripening these tend to stretch until they resemble small plums. Furthermore, "gentile" could also derive from the sweetness of the tannins that distinguish this blend.
As for identity, however, for some scholars it would be a variety in itself, and as such it was registered in 1971 in the National Catalog of Vine Varieties, for others instead only a biotype of Sangiovese. Recent genetic studies on native vines would have corroborated the thesis according to which it would be a clone or biotype of Sangiovese Grosso, therefore a vine that derives from Sangiovese but which has peculiar characteristics.
Characteristics of Prugnolo Gentile
Prugnolo Gentile is a vine that requires a hot, dry climate to ripen and gives its best when grown on clayey and limestone soils. For this reason it does not grow well everywhere and has made Tuscany its territory of choice.
One of the distinctive characteristics is its intense and fruity flavour, which blends perfectly with notes of spices, herbs and wood. The wine produced with this variety has a strong acidity and a good tannic structure, which gives it a great aging capacity, and is characterized by body, fullness of taste and elegance. When tasting, we can identify primary hints of plum, cherry and blackberry. Prugnolo Gentile is often used as a grape on its own, but it is also blended with other Sangiovese varieties to create more complex and structured wines.
Where is it grown and produced?
Sangiovese is one of the most important and popular grape varieties in Italy. This vine is native to Tuscany and has been grown in the region for centuries. Today it is widespread in many other territories, such as Umbria, Marche, Emilia-Romagna and Liguria. But Prugnolo Gentile in particular is grown in the Montepulciano area.
Wines produced with Prugnolo Gentile
The Prugnolo Gentile grape variety forms the basis – with variable percentages – for the production of some of the excellent Tuscan red wines, such as Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG and Rosso di Montepulciano DOC. Two important labels, in which a light tannic note emerges typical of this blend and the scent of black fruits and cherry on the nose. Both wines stand out for their precious ruby red color and are perfect to pair with appetizers, stuffed pasta and meat main courses.
Anyone wishing to discover Prugnolo Gentile can do so by coming to Fattoria del Cerro for a tasting experience of four great wines in the Villa, paired with typical appetizers and a tasting of our olive oil.
Did you know Prugnolo Gentile and what makes it unique?