Did you know? Of all the American presidents, no one loved wine as much as Thomas Jefferson, United States' third president, diplomat, lawyer, architect, philosopher, Founding Father of the Nation and US first Ambassador to France. He was passionate about wines, he loved collecting them and was keeping a register of all the names of the wines he tasted during his travels. And we know which ones he loved to drink. Among them, together with precious French wines, we find the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Jefferson's accounts on wine and some wine purchases made by him in the early years of his presidency can be found in a digital version in the New York Public Library, including a small brown leather notebook where we can read lists of the wine purchases he made. In one of the lists, written in 1802-1803, we can see Jefferson buying the wine from a wine seller in the Italian city of Florence adding an additional clause in his purchase, where it was explicitly requested that 123 of the bottles ordered had to arrive from Montepulciano, Tuscany, based on the Sangiovese grape. This is particularly interesting since during those early times, Italian wines were not so appreciated by wine drinkers and lovers, especially when compared to French or Portuguese wines.
In his early days, Jefferson was a fan of the heavy, sweet taste of port and sherry, but during the Revolutionary War his tastes began to change as he was in contact with German mercenaries, fighting for the British and being held as prisoners near his home. Those mercenaries introduced Jefferson first to German wine. After he moved to France to be the first Ambassador of the United States, he discovered French wine and became enchanted.
In the New York Public Library list, orders appear for several hundred bottles of Champagne, Sherry and Madeira, Burgundy, Tokaji and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The president also loved Piedmont wines made with Nebbiolo, but wine from Montepulciano was clearly his favorite.
In April 1806 the president wrote to one of his friends in Italy, a certain Mr. Appleton, requesting 473 bottles of Montepulciano wine from the previous year, because that year was considered one of the best. He is credited with saying, “For the present I confine myself to the physical need of some good Montepulciano, this being a very favorite wine, and habit having rendered the light and high flavored wines a necessity of life with me.”
Obviously, President Jefferson was not the only one to understand the value and taste of Nobile wine back in those times, but he must be acknowledged for having anticipated his times and his successors. as the first lover - we could call him "influencer" - of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.