Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Montefalco wine region of Umbria, Italy

Paolo Bea and his wines are legendary. The estate has been growing grapes in the same location since the 15th century and the current proprietor (Rosenthal):
  • Is one of Italy's most passionate natural winemakers
  • Is a founding member of vini veri, a group dedicated to non-interventionist winemaking
  • Has an unshakeable commitment to terroir and "old-fashioned" techniques
  • Is passionate about preserving the unique personality of the region
So it was with great anticipation that we headed out from our Terre Margaritelli visit in Torgiano to Montefalco to its southeast. The drive was pleasant, especially as we passed through the villages leading up to Montefalco and Montefalco proper. The video below serves as an example.

Before describing our visit to Paolo Bea, a word about the region within which its wines are produced. The map below shows the location of the DOC region (granted in 1979 and covering parts of the municipalities of Bevagna, Giano dell'Umbria, Gualdo Cattaneo, Castel Ritaldi, and all of the municipality of Montefalco) and the DOCG region (granted in 1992 and with similar distribution as the DOC region). The DOC and DOCG regions are shown in the heart of the map, within the broader Colli Martani region.


The area has a continental climate with average annual rainfall of 700 mm. The gently sloping hills that are a feature of the growing area support vineyards at elevations ranging between 220 m and 472 m a.s.l. Aspects are varied, resulting in a range of micro-climates.

The DOC wines are a Blanco (Grechetto -- min 50%; Trebbiano Toscano -- 20 - 35%; and Trebbiano Spoletino -- 0 - 30%) and a Rosso (Sagrantino -- 10 - 15%; Sangiovese -- 60 - 70%; and other red grapes -- 15 - 30%).The DOCG wines are made from 100% Sagrantino grapes  and can be either dry or Passito. The grapes for these wines have a limited production and are characterized by small bunches, thick skins, and high polyphenol content.

The characteristics of the grape allows for partial drying (as in the case of the passito wine) and long aging. In the case of the passito wine, the grapes are carefully selected and left out to dry for approximately two months after which they are pressed and the must fermented with the skins.

As regards the DOCG wines, yields for the dry wine are 52 hl/ha and 28 hl/ha for the passito. Both wines must be aged for a minimum of 33 months, with a further requirement of minimum 4 months bottle aging. The dry wine must be resident in oak for a minimum of 12 months. The DOC wine requires 12 months aging.

I will describe the Paolo Bea visit and tasting in a follow-up post.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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