19-20 APRIL IN MONTEFALCO: PRESENTING THE NEW VINTAGE OF DOC AND DOCG WINES OF MONTEFALCO AND SPOLETO TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PRESS
Sunday, April 16th: I flew from Toronto to Rome on American Airlines, routed through Charlotte, North Carolina. A driver drove me to Montefalco, 186 km from Rome airport.
Montefalco is a charming hilltop village in Umbria with a population of under 6,000 people. I booked into Hotel Degli Affreschi, a short walk, uphill, from the main square where the Anteprima Sagrantino offices are located. Picked up my event progamme, which included a list of eight restaurants at which we could eat by presenting them with a voucher ticket. I dined twice at Ristorante L’Alchimista in one corner of the square (which had an amazing wine list – I would subsequently buy a couple of bottles there to take home: Villa Mongalli Calicanto Trebbiano Spoletino 2018 and Antica Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea Pagliaro Montefalco Sagrantino 2016).
All participants in the Anteprima Sagrantino had been instructed to download an app which allowed us to choose from a list of 41 participating wineries which facilities we wanted to visit in which time slots. This information would be collated with bus transportation and timings to and from the chosen wineries. Also on the app was a list of 153 wines we could taste in the Sala Consiliare with sommelier service (seated at a table, you wrote a list of six wines by number on a piece of paper, held it aloft and a sommelier would take it and return a few seconds later with the bottles and pour you a sample of each).
Over the course of the first two days, I visited the following wineries: (April 18) Lungarotti, Bocale, Tenuta Alzatura, Terre di San Felice and Tabarrini. (April 19) Arnaldo-Caprai, Tenuta Bellafonte, Adanti, Antonelli San Marco and Tenuta Castelbuono-Lunelli.
Thursday, April 20th: I concentrated on the wines being served by the sommeliers: Spoleto Trebbiano Superiore Montefalco (2); Montefalco Bianco (4); Montefalco Grechetto (6). Then lunch at Ristorante L’Alchimista.
Montefalco Rosso: 18 wines sampled (Montefalco Rosso is usually a blend of Sangiovese 70%, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot, or it can be 15% Montepulciano, or Barbera or Cabernet – although the spectacular Le Cimate Montefalco Rosso 2019 is a blend 60% Sangiovese, 20% Sagrantino, 10% Tannat, 10% Refosco Dal Peduncolo Rosso).
From my tasting, it seems to be that the best grape for blending with Sagrantino – Italy’s most tannic variety – is Merlot.
Montefalco Rosso Riserva: 6 wines tasted. My top-scoring wine was Valdangius 2018 (91), one point ahead of Benedetti & Grigi Estia 2018 (which had 5% Ciliegiolo in the bend) and Terre di San Felice 2018.
Montefalco Sagrantino ranging in vintages from 2014 to 2019: 14 tasted. My top-scoring wines: Valdangius Fortunato 2016, Colle Mora Il Bove 2017, La Fonte Collepoppo 2018 and Tabarrini Colle Grimaldesco 2019.
Montefalco Sagrantino Passito: 5 wines tasted. My top-scoring wines: Terre di San Felice 2019, Le Thadee Pio IX 2019, Cocco Ilaria Fontiola 2016 and La Fonte 2018.
After this some of us sat down over a beer in the main square.
At 6:30 that evening all the participants gathered at the Museum Complex San Francesco for speeches by local dignitaries, including the Mayor of Montefalco, Luigi Titta, and the President of the Umbria region, Donatella Tesei.
2019 was proclaimed a five-star vintage and we all went off to party at the Chiostro Sant’Agostino. The wines from all the participating wineries were available for tasting and there were food stations set out along the walls of the cloister.
Saturday, April 22nd: Up at 5 am to be driven to Rome Airport for my flight via Philadelphia home. Very satisfying four days away.
Looking back on my notes on the winery visits, here are my top-scoring wines at each venue:
Lungarotti: Ilbio 2021; Rubesco Monticchio Riserva 2018; San Giorgio 2018; Montefalco Sagrantino Passito 2017.
Bocale: Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino 2022; Montefalco Sagrantino 2013; Enio Montefalco Sagrantino 2015.
Tenuta Alzatura: Montefalco Biano Cortili 2022, Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino.
Terre di San Felice: Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino 2022; Castel Ricaldi Montefalco Sagrantino Vinum Dei 2019.
Tabarrini: Trebbiano Spoletino 2010; Campo Alla Campo Alla Cerqua 2018.
Arnaldo Caprai: Grechetto 2022; Grecante Colli Martini 2022; Chardonnay 2022; Montefalco Vigna Flamini Maremmana 2021; Grecante 2015; Collepiano Montefalco Sagrantino 2019; Valdimaggio Sagrantino 2019; Noir Brut; 25 Anniversario Sagrantino di Montefalco Riserva 2019.
Tenuta Bellafonte: Sperella Montefalco Bianco 2022; Pomontino Montefalco Rosso 2019; Collenottolo Montefalco Sagrantino 2016.
Adanti: Arquata Sagrantino Riserva 2015; Il Domenico Montefalco Sagrantino 2009; Sagrantino de Montefalco 1999.
Antonelli: Spumante Metodo Classico 2019 Trebbiano Spoletino; Moltefalco Rosso Riserva 2020; San Marco Molina del Arttone 2018; Chiusa de Pannone 2018; San Marco Sagrantino di Montefalco 2008; Montefalco Sagrantino Passito 2017.
Also tasted this week:
Vignoble PB Picbois Rosé 2022 (Quebec – Picbois is French for woodpecker)
A blend of Vidal 42% Geisenheim 42% and Sabrevois 16%. Pink with an amber hue; spicy, watermelon nose; medium-bodied, dry, crisp, cranberry flavour with mouth-freshening acidity and a firm finish, beautifully balanced; lovely mouth-feel. (90)
Viña Real Reserva 2016 (Rioja, $24.95, Vintages #94896, to be released May 27th)
Deep ruby colour; cedary, strawberry bouquet with oak spice; medium-bodied, dry, elegant; strawberry and red plum flavours; well-integrated oak and smooth, ripe tannins. (92)
Gérard Bertrand Corbières 2019 ($17.95, Vintages #394288, to be released May 27th)
A blend of Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah. Dense purple-ruby in colour; toasty, spicy black plum nose; full-bodied, dry, well-balanced, savoury black fruit flavours, (89)
Gérard Bertrand Perles de Grenache Rosé 2022 (Pays d’Oc, $18.95, Vintages # 956209, to be released May 27th)
Pink colour with an orange tint; a nose of watermelon and strawberries; medium-bodied, dry, beautifully balanced watermelon and red berry flavours with a fresh finish. (91)
Gérard Bertrand Hampton Water Rosé 2022 (Languedoc, $29.95, Vintages #667337, to be released May 27th)
Grenache (60%), Cinsault (15%), Mourvèdre (15%), and Syrah (10%). Pare orange-pink in colour; red berry bouquet; medium-bodied, dry, subtly aged in oak; elegant redcurrant flavour; beautifully balanced and lingering. (92)