Tasting the Wines of Umbria

Quick – name an Italian wine region. 

What did you say? Chianti? Barolo?
I’m guessing the first region that came to mind wasn’t Umbria.  In fact, if you asked me to name as many Italian DOCs as I could, I probably wouldn’t even think of Umbria.  Well, at least I wouldn’t have before attending the Arnaldo Caprai wine dinner at Pelago Restaurant.
Located north of Rome, Umbria is Italy’s only landlocked wine region south of the Po river.  Umbria is known for its two unique grapes.  Grechetto for white wine and Sagrantino for red.
At the Caprai dinner, the first course was served with Caprai’s “Grecante” Grechetto dei Colli Martani 2009.  This was a nice old world white.  It was crisp, refreshing, with a bit of apple/pear notes, though I didn’t find it particularly fruit forward.  It’s a good food wine and went quite well with the cod and black chick pea salad it was served with.
The second wine was the Montefalco Rosso 2007.  While this wine is 15% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot, the other 70% is Sangiovese.  Unsurprisingly, it was very Chianti-like. If you are a fan of Chianti (I’m not, usually — too much acid for a red) then you’ll really like this wine.  This is a wine that needs the right food.  Pair it with the same food you’d drink a Chianti with – tomato sauce, pizza, etc.
We then moved on to a couple of 100% Sagrantino wines.  HOLY TANNINS, BATMAN!  Sagrantino is a pretty thick skinned grape, and it showed.  The Sagrantino “Collepiano” 2004 started off quite nice.  When I first took a sip, it seemed almost reminiscent of a California cab with loads of ripe dark fruit, along with vanilla.  But then the astringency from the tannins kicked in and sucked all the moisture out of my mouth.  This wasn’t a bad wine, but the tannin was a bit intense for my taste, and it may have been a bit over oaked.  I’d be interested to see if the tannins would mellow out after some more age.
The Collepiano was followed by the Sagrantino di Montefalco “25 Anni.”  I definitely enjoyed this wine.  Also being 100% Sagrantino, it has a lot of similarities with the Collepiano.  The main difference is that the tannins in the “25 Anni” were a bit softer.  I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it velvety, but compared to the Collepiano, I guess you could say it was.  Overall, it just seemed like a more refined wine.  It’s one I’d definitely keep an eye out for.
You’ll find these wines on the wine lists at Piccolo Sogno, Trattoria #10, Bice at the Talbott Hotel, Rhapsody, and the aforementioned Pelago.  Or, if you’re out in the burbs, try DOC Wine Bar in Lombard, Convito Café in Wilmette.

If you want to pick up a bottle to take home, you can find Arnaldo Caprai wines at Howard’s Wine Cellar on Belmont, A Taste of Vino in Hinsdale, or Caputo’s in Algonquin.

Filed under: Bottle Review, Italy

Tags: Italy, review, wine

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