Category Archives: Montefalco

Roberto Di Filippo: Horses, Geese and Organic Wine

A few months ago, the Wine Media Guild did a tasting of wines made from native Italian grapes that are not very well known. Some of the wines were real gems, but one produced by Roberto Di Filippo that was made from the Trebbiano Spoletino grape really stood out.

Elisa Bosco of PR Vino, who organized the wines for the tasting, later asked me if I wanted to attend a tasting featuring more of the wines of Roberto Di Filippo. She said that Roberto would present the wines.

Roberto Di Filippo

Roberto is a very engaging and informative speaker and you can hear the passion when he speaks about his wines.

The Di Filippo winery is 30-hectares and overlooks Assisi on the hills between Torgiano and Montefalco in the heart of Umbria. Roberto and his sister Emma own it.

It is situated in Cannara and nearby is Pian d’Arca, where St. Francis spoke to the birds.

Plani Arche is 6-hectares of vineyards owned by Roberto Di Filippo and his wife Elena. Roberto said that they have a tradition of cultivation which respects nature, as they strongly believe in the need to find a constant balance between man, soil, flora and fauna. He has introduced a number of different ecologically friendly systems.

Agroforestry is a land use system of land management involving simultaneous cultivation of farm crops, trees and shrubs. It combines shrubs and trees in agriculture and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, ecologically sound and sustainable land use systems. As part of this they use workhorses in the vineyard to do the cultivation and to solve the problem of soil compression. Roberto said they raise geese within the Plani Arche vineyard. He said a number of times he is first of all a farmer and that everything depends on what happens in the vineyards.

Since 1994 the wines have been cultivated organically, and biodynamic cultivation was introduced some years ago. They are certified organic according to E. U. regulations for the Plani Arche vineyard.

It can be a little confusing as Roberto makes the same wines under both the Di Filippo and Plani Arche label.

The difference for me between them is that the Di Filippo wines were bigger and more intense, while the Plani Arche wines were more elegant.

The wines

Trebbiano Spoletino “Farandola” (Umbria) 2016 IGT Di Filippo made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino

The soil is clayey-calcareous and the vineyards are on hillsides. Training method is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place off the skins at 18 degrees C and the wines remain in stainless steel until bottled. This is a fruity wine, rich in flavor with hints of citrus. It has good acidity and minerality. It is one of the best examples of Trebbiano I have ever tasted. Roberto said the Trebbiano Spoletino is native to Umbria and is different from other Trebbiano grapes.

Trebbiano Spoletino IGT 2016 Plani Arche made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. There are 4,400 plants per hectare. Fermentation is off the skins at a low temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel casks for 4 months. This is a fresh and complex wine with citrus flavors and aromas and buttery notes.

Grechetto Colli Martani DOC 2016 Plani Arche 100% made from Grechetto. The vines are spur cordon/guyot trained; and there are 4,000/5,000 plants per hectare temperature. The wine is aged in steel casks on the less and then in bottle before release. This is a fruity wine with a hint of spice and a touch of almond in the aftertaste.

Grechetto IGT Bianco dell’Umbria IGT 2016 Plani Arche made from 100% Grechetto from hillside vineyards. This wine is produced without the addition of sulfites.

The soil is clayey-calcareous and the training system is guyot. There are 5,000 plants per hectare.

Montefalco Rosso DOC Plani Arche made from 60% Sangiovese, 25% Barbera and 15% Sagrantino. The soil is clayey-calcareous, the training system is guyot and cordone and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation takes place for 10 days. The wine is aged in large casks for 12 months. This is a wine that is ready to drink now. It has hints of ripe red fruit, a touch of cherry, pomegranate and a long finish and very pleasing after taste. I took the half empty bottle home with me to have with dinner.

Sagrantino is a grape that is very dark in color and has a lot of tannin. Roberto has managed to tame the grape and produce a wine that is food friendly.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG “Brown Label” 2013 Plani Arche100% Sagrantino. There are 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are hand-picked to ripen well and are left to macerate for a few days. This is an intense wine with a persistent fruity taste and hints of pomegranate and spice.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2013 Di Filippo made from 100% Sagrantino. The soil is clayey-calcareous, there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Vinification is the same as the wine belo wine below. This is a full-bodied wine, tannic with hints of red fruit and a touch of flint.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG “Black Label” 2009 Plani Arche made from 100% Sagrantino. There is a prolonged traditional maceration and the wine is aged in barriques and tonneaux for 18/24 months.

This is a full-bodied wine with intense red berry aromas and flavors and a hint of flint and spice. This wine will age.

Montefalco Sagrantino Passito Plani Archi made from 100% Sagrantino. The drying period (appassimento) lasts for 2 months and a subsequent maceration in the winter period. Aging takes place in stainless steel and barriques. This is an intense fruity wine with hints of black and red fruit, especially blackberries with a long finish and pleasing after taste. I liked this wine so much I took the open 375 bottle home with me.

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Filed under Amarone, Di Filippo, Montefalco, Passito, Plani Arche

Easter “Linner” with Good Friends

We like to invite friends over for Easter “linner”, as I call it, my name for the meal somewhere between lunch and dinner. I prefer this time because enjoy a leisurely meal and still finish at a “decent” hour.  As usual, we stuck to my rule of one bottle less then the number of people so that everyone goes home relatively sober. There were 8 of us and there were 7 bottles of wine.

For the appetizer Michele made crostini with avocado and bottarga, salted mullet roe, which went very well with the Champagne.  Michele always makes lamb for Easter and since Bordeaux is a classic match with lamb we had three Bordeaux a 1990,1988 and 1966. One of the guests, knowing Michele likes Burgundy, brought a 1947.

The Wine

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve 1998 (Rheims) 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. This is a full-bodied champagne, round with fresh citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. Ed McCarthy in his book Champagne for Dummies says, ”The Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve Brut is a great Champagne and clearly Veuve Clicquot’s best buy.” 1988 was a very good vintage

Champagne Dom Pérignon Oenothéque 1996 disgorged in 2008. The Oenothêque (black label) indicates that a Dom Pérignon vintage has reached either its second peak in maturity, optimized intensity, 15 to 20 years after the harvest (the wine above), or its third peak, with optimized intensity after 30 years on the lees. The cellar master is the only one that can determine when the wine has reached that optimal stage in its evolution and only then will it be released as Oenothéque. This is a champagne with great length, structure and depth, nice fruit and just starting to show a hint of toast on the palate. 1996 was an excellant vintage.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990 (Pauillac) 80-95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5-20% Cabernet Franc and 0-5% Petit Verdot, depending on the vintage. The wine is aged 18-20 months in new barrels. In 1990 the climate conditions were excellent. The yield was abundant and of outstanding quality. This is an elegant complex wine with hints of blackberries, smoke, leather, spice and a touch of vanilla in the very long finish. This wine will last for least 10 years or more.

Chateau Baron Pichon Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Malbec, the blend depends on the vintage. The wine is aged for 18-20 months in barrel. This wine is just starting to come around but should last for a number of years.

Chateau Montrose1966 (Saint-Estéphe) made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Aged in barrel from 22-24 months. In his book Bordeaux, Robert Parker states the following about this wine in 1985: “The 1966 Montrose is austere and tough on the palate, with good fruit and firm dusty tannins.”  I wonder:  what are dusty tannins? He says the anticipated maturity is between 1986 and 2010. This wonderful Bordeaux has reached full maturity.

Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Caretiers” 1947 Leroy Thanks to the kindness of friends I have been lucky enough to have drunk a few of the 1947’s from different producers. This is classic Burgundy at it best, a mature wine but not showing any real signs of age.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito 2006 100% Sagrantino Antonelli (Umbria)  As I mentioned in my last blog, the people of Montefalco have the passito with lamb on Easter Sunday. We tried it but most of the guests found it too sweet for the lamb. I guess you just have to be in Montefalco for Easter. Half bottle.

Passito di Pantelleria “Kbaggiar” NV Azienda Agricola Seraste (Sicily) This was a very pleasant dessert wine and a good way to end the dinner. Half bottle.

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Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, French Red, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino

Scacciadiavoli-Drive Away Devils

When I was the wine director for ITrulli and Vino (when it was an all Italian wine store), I would play opera in the store much to the annoyance of the owner. I am a great fan of Puccini and would play Turandot again and again. One of my favorite arias in the opera is Non Piangere Liù.

One day, a wine producer’s daughter arrived at the store for a brief internship in order to learn about the wide range of Italian wines before she went to study in Bordeaux.

Her name was Liù and her father’s winery is Scacciadiavoli (drive away devils) located in Montefalco in Umbria. She was surprised when I told her that I had been to Montefalco. Before I could ask about her unusual name, she said that her father liked Turandot so he named her Liù.

LIÙ

Whenever I gave wine classes, Liù would sit in and we talked about wine whenever we had a chance.  The weeks went by quickly and she thanked me for all my help before she was off to Bordeaux.  A few years later, I saw Liu in Montefalco and she thanked me again saying that when she had arrived in Bordeaux to study, she made a big hit because she was the only one of the students that knew about Italian wine.

April 2012 is Sagrantino month in NYC and I was invited to a number of events.  One was at Tarallucci & Vino, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and Liù was there presenting her wines.

The wines of Azienda Agraria Scacciadiavoli di Pambuffetti

Grechetto Dell’Umbria IGT 2010, made from 100% Grechetto. The harvest takes place the first ten days of September. Vinification takes place in steel tanks on the lees and malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release. Grechetto is a native Umbrian varietal. Liu said that this was a wine to be enjoyed when it is young. She described it being fresh and fruity with floral hints and good acidity.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 made from 60% Sangiovese 25% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot. The harvest takes place from the middle of September to the middle of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 12 months. She said that the wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 6 months before release.

The Sangiovese is for the acidity and the Merlot for the fruit. She added that their soil is mostly clay and Merlot does very well here. Other grapes beside Merlot can be used such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino up to 15%. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of spice and good acidity. It has a long finish and a pleasant aftertaste See…

Montefalco Sagantino DOCG 2005 100% Sagrantino Harvest takes place from the middle to the end of October. If I understood Liu correctly she said that the aging was the same as for the Montefalco Rosso but it remains in wood for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. Liu said that the 2005 vintage was given 5 stars, the highest rating by the Montefalco Consortium.

Liù said the Sagrantino is a big wine with a dark color and a lot of tannin and can age for a long time.

For me Sagrantino is one of the great wines of Italy but it is not very well know in this country. It is an elegant, complex wine with rich red fruit aromas and flavors of spice and leather, good acidity and a long finish. 

Montefalco Sagantino Passito DOCG 2004 100% Sagrantino.   Harvest is from the middle to the end of September. The grapes are dried on “graticci” (mats) until mid December.  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/part-ii-sagran…sting-the-wine/ For more information on Sagrantino.

Vinification takes place in steel tanks. The wine is aged in new barrels for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of sweet dried fruits, and hints of blackberry, blueberry and spice, a long finish and lingering aftertaste. Liu said that in Montefalco this passito is drunk with lamb for Easter.

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Filed under Momtefalco, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli