Michele and I have know Livia Colantonio and Paolo Nodari, founders of Castello delle Regine winery, for a long time but have not visited the winery in a number of years. The winery is just outside the town of Orte in Umbria, only 30 minutes by train from Rome. On our recent trip, Livia invited us to visit the winery and taste the wines over lunch.
The property covers 400 hectares overlooking the valley that has been called for centuries the “Valley of the Queens,” located between the towns of Narni and Amelia.
Livia said the soil of the hills is sandy clay, the exposure is north-south and there are 5.000 to 6,000 vines per hectare
. They follow sustainable agriculture rules with low environmental impact. She said they use only natural fertilizers and the 200 hectares of forests surrounding the vineyards provide a microclimate favorable to prefect ripening of the grapes, with temperature excursions between night and day.
The consulting oenologist is the very respected Franco Bernabei.
In addition to the winery, the estate includes an agriturismo with comfortable apartments and a top flight regional restaurant featuring products from the estate.
Sparkling Rose NV made from Sangiovese and Montepuliciano using the Charmat Method (the second fermentation takes place in a large closed pressure tank).
This is a wine with hints of strawberries , raspberries and a hint of citrus. Great way to begin lunch.
Bianco delle Regine 2016 made from 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Riesling and 10% Pinot Grigio. Harvest takes place by hand in the middle of August. Each grape variety is vinified separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 75 HL. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve its freshness. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of citrus fruit with a touch of lime and good acidity.
Our first appetizer was marinated Chianina beef rump served with a mix of salad and kataifi, shredded filo pastry for crunch.
This was followed by scrambled eggs with truffle and asparagus
Rosso di Podernovo — 80% Sangiovese, from 30 year old vines, 10% Montepulciano and 10% Syrah from new plantings at 90 to 280 meters with a south/west exposure from the Podernovo estate. Harvest is from the end of September into October. Maceration is in stainless steel tanks 50 to 110 HL with daily pump over for 14 to 18 days. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier tonneaux and in oak botti of 25 and 15 HL. The wine remains in bottle for 8 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit with hints of cherry, violets and a touch of spice. This is an excellent food wine.
We enjoyed it with Ravioli filled with pumpkin and hazelnuts with a sauce of veal jus.
Princeps 2005 made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon from 15 and 20 year old vines, 20% Merlot and 20% Sangiovese, vinified separately. Harvest is by hand the last week of September into October. Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with daily pumping over for 14 to 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in French Allier barriques and then in bottle for a minimum of 24 months before release. This is a complex wine with hints of cherry, licorice and tobacco and a long finish. The wine was showing no signs of age.
Pasta with spicy Chianina ragu. Homemade tagliolini in a sauce made from the farm’s Chianina cows.
Selectione del Fondatore 2005 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso from a special selection of 40-year-old vines. The vineyard is south-southwest at 280 meters. Harvest is by hand from the end of September into October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 110 HL for 14 to 18 days with daily pumping over. The wine is aged in French barriques for 12 months and for a minimum of 36 months in bottle before release. This is complex and full-bodied wine with hints of blackberries, cherries and a touch of balsamic.
Roast lamb with vegetables from the garden.
Sangiovese Passito – red dessert wine made from 100% late harvest Sangiovese grapes. The grapes are dried (appassimento) on trellises. The wine is aged in small French oak barrels for a minimum of 4 years before release. This is one of the best I have ever tasted. It has hints of black fruit with notes of blackberries and blueberries, a very long finish and a fantastic aftertaste. As is the tradition in Umbria, it could also go with lamb on Easter.
Cake stuffed with cardamom cream and glazed with chocolate and Cointreau.
The end of a great lunch
After lunch we took a tour of the estate, and went to see the Chianina cattle. Livia said they are one of the oldest, tallest and heaviest breeds of cattle. The cows are raised in a semi-wild state. There are approximately 250 animals divided into four herds and they live on 40 hectares devoted to pasture and forests. Chianina cows originated in the area of the Valdichiana, from which they get their name.
Before we left Livia took us on a tour of the wine cellar.