Sunset over Umbria's town of Assisi
While the vino spotlight is focused on Umbria's next door neighbor, Tuscany, there are some real works of art to be found in Umbria. It's a pity that the area's iconic red, Sagrantino, is hardly known in the U.S., however, this may change as Umbria is becoming one of the most compelling wine regions for quality in Italy.
The Sagrantino grape is actually indigenous to Umbria. While Sagrantino is one of the most tannic varietals, if properly grown, vinified and aged, it can be Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci-worthy. The wine is inky purple with an almost jet black center. Its aroma is one of intense deep red fruits, with notes of cinnamon layered with earth profiles. Granted the special DOCG status by the Italian government, Sagrantino must be aged at least 29 months prior to release. But, those who age it at least another five years will be rewarded with tastes of paradiso. It's no wonder that Sagrantino was the favorite of Popes and connoisseurs during the Renaissance.
If you're ready to expand your red wine horizons, try one of the following Umbrian producers of Sagrantino:
- Arnaldo Capral Collepiano
- Giampaolo Tabarrini
- Villa Mongali Col Cimino
For all of you white wine lovers, don't despair as one of my favorite whites from Europe is produced in Umbria. Look no further than Castello della Salla's Cervaro della Salla. I still remember the first time this ethereal wine passed through my lips in 1999. One of the country's most illustrious whites, it is pure magic. Made from Chardonnay grown in limestone soil (and mixed with the Grechetto grape which adds even more richness and structure, along with nutty profiles), Cervaro reminds me of an exceptionally well-made white Burgundy.
St. Francis of Assisi so loved Umbria that he built a basilica here. Italy's premier chocolate maker, Perugina, is also Umbrian. Add Sagrantino and Cervo della Salla and you have a constellation of masterpieces. If you're joining Wine-Knows in 2015 for the rental of a luxuruios 7000 sq. ft. villa, you'll have the opportunity to sample all of the best of Umbria.