Vino Girl never really thinks of drinking red wine from Umbria, the region almost smack dab in the middle of the boot, because the white wine Orvieto is really all that comes to mind. However, the Italian region cocooned by Tuscany, Marche, Abruzzi and Lazio (Rome) produces some exceptional wines worthy of consideration.
The most notable reds come from the DOCG Montefalco Sagrantino and the DOC Montefalco. Montefalco Sagrantino is made from the Sagrantino grape, one of Italy’s many indigenous and inscrutable grape varietals. Montefalco Rosso can include Sangiovese, Sagrantino and up to 15% of other varieties. Sagrantino is a thick-skinned grape with serious tannins that produces rich, robust reds. It is also used to make a sweet “passito” from partially dried grapes which has been consumed by Umbrians in times of celebration for centuries.
I drank the 2000 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva with friends at dinner last night and it was memorable and delicious. Paolo Bea, the 73-year old powerhouse behind the estate, is very traditional and uses only organic methods and employs no fining or filtration. The 2000 vintage is 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 25% Montepulicano and it has intense aromas of dark fruits, spice and licorice. The mouthfeel is super velvety and full-bodied but with enough acidity to keep it alive in your mouth. I found it to be a very well-rounded wine (the others seemed to enjoy it as well) that reminded me of a really well-made Super Tuscan with less fat and more acid. It was great with cheese and, as it turns out, risotto.
2000 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva - $60 retail. Salute!