Established as recently as 1961 and a byword for quality in Montepulciano since the early 1980s, Poliziano’s story nonetheless taps into the history and culture of this picture-postcard corner of Tuscany – and it must be one of very few to feature both a Renaissance poet and a mule. The name Poliziano is a tribute to the 15th century Florentine scholar Angelo Ambrogini, a prolific translator of classical works and a tutor to the children of the Medici (some even believe he may have been poisoned by Piero de’ Medici). His ‘nickname,’ Poliziano, is a simple reference to his birthplace – Montepulciano was originally Mons Politianus in Latin.
The cultural significance goes beyond mere history, however, and embodies a winery combining modern techniques with a rare respect for heritage. The mid-90s saw a move from big wood to barriques and tonneaux for flagship wine Asinone, whose vineyard was the first in the region to undergo specialist replanting, foresaking the old technique of interspersing Prugnolo Gentile (Sangiovese) vines with Trebbiano and Malvasia. The Prugnolo here is extremely distinctive, combining compact bunches with firm skins to produce a Vino Nobile of unique character and longevity.
Poliziano's Vino Nobile selezione - Asinone - is only produced in the best years. The number of bottles depends on the quality of the vintage. Average production is 20,000 - 40,000 bottles. In years in which it is not bottled, Asinone is 'downgraded' to 'basic' Nobile di Montepluciano. It is consequently hard to talk of "bad years" when referring to Asinone. And why 'Asinone'? The vineyard gets its name from its shape, said to resemble the back of a mule.
In the best years, Asinone is produced from 100% Sangiovese, otherwise some 10% Colorino and Merlot are used from the newer vineyards. The 2014 is 100% Sangiovese.
The grapes are manually harvested from Poliziano’s highest vineyards (at around 350-400m) in the Vino Nobile DOCG delineation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature, with frequent pumping over (remontage) the must over the grape residue. Fermentation and maceration take some 20 - 25 days. Ageing occurs for 16-18 months, in 225-litre French oak barriques (new oak and second-use) and larger tonneaux of older French oak, meaning that new oak is brought to bear on around 25% of the blend.
In almost all years, the Asinone has an ageing potential of 15 years from vintage.
Almost opaque, the wine has an exceptional nose of spice, fruits and new oak. The palate is complex and refined with great integration between fruit, oak and tannin.