Montepulciano is wedged between Montalcino to the west and Chianti to the north. A hilltop town like Montalcino, Montepulciano didn’t get much notice from international wine enthusiasts until the 1980s when some of the area’s innovative producers replanted vineyards and started producing more distinctive wines. The primary red grape is the Sangiovese clone Prugnolo Gentile though Canaiolo Nero is also grown and blended. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG may be entirely Sangiovese or a blend of at least 70% Sangiovese and Canaiolo Nero, a grape that softens Sangiovese. Rosso de Montepulciano DOC is made of the same grapes but by law must be aged a minimum of only six months, compared with a minimum of two years for Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. There are also Montepulciano IGT wines, which refer to wines from the area but not made according to the regulations of the other two appellations. In general, the reds of Montepulciano have softer tannins than Brunello and are less acidic than Chianti. Montepulicano is also famous for its Vine Santo, a white dessert wine.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.