As I have mentioned a few times, I have a curious relationship with online tastings. The concept is fairly straight-forward: a wine entity sends out samples to a group of bloggers who then “meet” online at the allotted time to discuss the wines.
The focus can be on either a specific winemaker, style, or even a region and usually includes anywhere from one to four bottles over the course of an hour. For a while, I was confused about the goal of such tastings, but a few months ago, I decided to practice what I have been preaching to my now teenaged son: “Just let it go.”
I have also had a few conversations with other writers about these tastings and I now realize that some of the goals of such tastings are intangible and immeasurable such as raising awareness and developing a community among writers.
It was among this back drop that I agreed to partake in an online tasting of wines from the Montefalco region in Umbria, in central Italy. Montefalco (perhaps along with the Marche and the Roero) is a region that is receiving considerably more press here in the U.S.
Long in the shadow of its more prestigious neighbor, Tuscany, Montefalco is perhaps best known for the muscular, age worthy red, Sagrantino di Montefalco. This tasting, however, focused on the lighter side of wines from the region, wines perfect for the summer months.
While every region can certainly be described as “unique” (as an aside, please refrain from ever using the phrase “very unique” or “somewhat unique” it is either unique or not), Umbria is the only region in Italy without a coastline or an international border. The vineyards, however, are situated at 1,500 feet or so above sea level, thus benefitting from long days and cooling winds.
The tasting itself was a bit unusual as it started at 3:00 in the afternoon (to accommodate the Italian winemakers that would be participating in the tasting live from Italy) and it included eight different wines. Although I am not all that accustomed to opening that many bottles before dinner, I did my best.
2015 Arnaldo Caprai Grechetto: Retail $19. Probably the most famous producer in the region, who did a lot to bring Sagrantino back to prominence, which had been used as sacramental wine. This Grechetto initially shows some bright fruit, but finishes a bit chalky. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2015 Perticaia Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC: Retail $15. Pale yellow with melon, lime and a hint of cashew. Round and full with some nice flavors and depth through the mid-palate. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2015 Nido del Falco Montefalco Bianco DOC: Retail $19. Grechetto, Chardonnay, Trebbiano. Light in the glass regarding color, but the nose sure is vibrant with bright yellow flower and cantaloupe. On the palate, some initial roundness followed by a wave of acidity that carries on well into the finish. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.
2014 Terre de La Custodia Grechetto Colli Maratani: Retail $12. More tropical than the other whites in the flight, but similar in color (despite being a year older). A bit of coconut comes through as does a slight touch of petrol. Round and full, this is surprisingly more nutty than it is fruity. The acidity is perhaps lacking, though as the wine disappears rather quickly on the finish. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2014 Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Bianco DOC: Retail $15. Grechetto, Chardonnay, Trebbiano. Loaded with floral and citrus notes on the nose. Bright and round with grapefruit coming through on the palate. A bit cloying on the finish, but a sold effort. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
2013 Tabarrini Montefalco Adarmando: Retail $17. 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. A very interesting combination of melon and interestingly, some rhubarb. Very Chenin-like in weight and flavor. A great combination of fruit, depth, and verve. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2012 Antonelli Montefalco Rosso: Retail $19. 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot. A bit dark in the glass with boysenberry and blackberry at the forefront. Well-balanced and very approachable, this is not the wine that you want you to hold onto for years and there really is no reason to do so–it is doing so very well right now. Very Good to Outstanding. 89-91 Points.
2011 Ziggurat Montefalco Rosso: Retail $15. Sangiovese 70% with Sagrantino 15%, Cabernet and Merlot 15%. Moderately dark, but still translucent. Fascinating aromas of raspberry, mocha, and a bit of persimmon. You know, I pooo-poo Italian wines (mostly white) from time to time, but this is a fantastic, fun wine that has a host of possible pairing possibilities: patio, poultry, pork chop, even popcorn. Outstanding. 90-92 Points.