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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Taste of Italy: UMBRIA Re-Visited.

Umbria Region
In my recent review of the 2006 Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 ANNI produced by Societa Agricola ARNALDO-CAPRAI srl of Montefalco, Umbria, I stated that the 2006 vintage is still in its infancy and requires some more years for it to age and matures in the bottle before it reaches its peak for consumption. In fact I rated this wine at a high of RS93 as it tasted during the actual tasting and not what I think what it might taste in five years time. I have just had the opportunity to taste-test two other supreme vintages of this wine - the 2000 and the 2005 Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 ANNI.

The very dangerous trend of actually rating a wine when it is still en primeur in the barrel some two years prior to bottling and release, has since 1982 created an astronomical spiral in the cost of some wines, especially the premier crus of Bordeaux, that are nowadays unreachable by many, and which are being mainly purchased at fine wine auctions for investment purposes rather then for what wine is actually produced for i.e.: drinking. In my opinion wine should be rated in the bottle, as it is meant to be consumed. Rating otherwise is a racket through which any commodity will become overpriced before it is generally available for no material reason except for the sole purpose of making its producers unwarrantly wealthier year by year. Good luck to them if there are people gullible enough to accomodate them, bad luck to us as consumers, because we are deprived from products due to overpricing. But this is beside the point, so let's get to the job in hand and let's enjoy some of the best, premium wines in the world which are available to all consumers at great value for money:

I shall not go into the vinification process of these two vintages as it is the same as for the 2006 which has been detailed in the earlier feature, but I am giving here the tasting notes and the ratings:
2006; 2005 and 2000 Vintages.

These wines will age brilliantly for at least twenty more years. All are strong, robust with dense tannins and structure.  Palate of rasberries, mulberries and maraschino cherries and dark chocolate. Flowery bouquet coupled with herbs and liquorice. Both wines give a long harmonious finish, with the 2000 vintage being the more mellow and enjoyable due to its longer age in the bottle, and better vintage conditions during 2000.

In 2005  weather conditions in most grape growing regions in Italy were erratic causing a difficult vintage in which only the very best grapes, in the ensuing conditions, were selected for premium wine production by the top winemakers.. The 2000 vintage on the other hand was very good in ensuing favourable climatic conditions,  enriching the grape harvests with high sugar concentrations, very good colour and extracts.

Alcohol content: 14.5%
Price Range: Eur68
Serving temperature: 17 - 18 Deg.C

RATINGS: THE 25 ANNI 2000 IS RATED AT RS95 (rated now). 14.5% alcohol by volume.
                    The 25 ANNI 2006 previously rated RS93.                    15% alcohol by volume.
                    The 25 ANNI 2005 rated now RS93.                               14.5% alcohol by volume.

Theses wines are all highly impressive with excellent quality, robust and high alcohol content for the Sagrantino grape varietal, which is unique for Montefalco, Umbria.

ARNALDO-CAPRAI produce various other high quality wine varietals and I have selected two of the very best to contrast with the Sagrantino varietals:

2005 Rosso Outsider IGT.

The term "Super-Tuscan" is very well known among wine connoisseurs, but it is not only in Tuscany that such great, high quality wines, outside the DOC or DOCG classifications are produced in Italy.
The Arnaldo-Caprai Rosso Outsider can be described as a "Super-Umbrian" as the quality of this wine competes very well with the best Tuscans. Like the Super-Tuscans this wine carries the IGT classification but nevertheless it is a superb, full-bodied and robust wine produced from a blend of two of the major, noble, international grape varieties.

Produced from a blend of 50% MERLOT harvested in the first week of September, and 50% CABERNET SAUVIGNON,  harvested in the third week of September, the grapes are crushed and macerated for 23 to 26 days at tempreratures less than 30Deg.C. After fermentation the wine is aged for 18 months in French Oak barrels. Only about 7000 bottles of this wine are produced each year in good vintages.

This wine is deep, dark, ruby in colour, clear, with high, round tannins and smooth acidity, full-bodied and dry, with aromas of violets, dark cherries and minerals. On the palate the Cabernet Sauvignon gives it structure  with a strong taste of black ripe fruit, black currants reminiscent of a good Bordeaux blend. The Merlot content mellows the rather strong Cabernet tannins and adds a taste of spices, dried fruit and plums to the blend. Nice velvety texture and structure and oaky. The finish is long and lingering.
Advisable to open some hours before consuming or to decant the wine at least one hour before. Still needs bottle aging, and can age for at least two decades. A very good, robust wine indeed.

Alcohol content: 14%
Price range: Eur40.
Serving Temperature: 17 - 18 Deg. C.
Food Pairing: Roast red meats; prime steaks; game. Strong mature cheese. Italian cuisine.


Grecante Grechetto 2010.

When we review Italian wine we tend to concentrate more on the exclusive Italian red wines than the whites. Nevertheless, we can find some excellent white wines that are exclusively produced from indegenious Italian grape varieties that are found only in certain regions and districts of this country.

GRECHETTO BIANCO is such a grape although some state that its origins are Greek. Grechetto is the dominant grape variety in the well known, easy-drinking Orvieto wine, which has no real relation to the Grecante Grechetto wine under review here.

The grapes for this wine are harvested between the last ten days of August annd the first ten days of September. The grapes are hand-picked, gently pressed to obtain only the fresh must and then fermented at low tempearures, to enhance the aromas and flavours of the wine.
After fermentation, the wine is aged for three months in stainless steels tanks and a further three months in the bottle.
Straw yellow in colour, clean aromas of citrus zest and green apples. On the palate it is crispy, fresh and fruity with a hint of bitter apple. An excellent white wine, round with a very good texture. Good finish. One of the best Italian white wines.

Alcohol: 13.5%
Price Range: Eur13.
Serving Temperature: Chilled 10 Deg.C.
Seafood Platter.
Food pairings: Fish, seafood, seashells. Mediterranean cuisine. Chicken and white meats.