Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Wines evocative of Umbria

Sipping a delicious red the other night from Umbria, in central Italy, brought back memories of a most enjoyable trip to Italy’s “green heart”. Discovering pretty hilltop towns steeped in history such as Assisi and Narni was an enriching experience. 

When you think of wines from this area, the name that automatically springs to mind is Orvieto, a town renowned for its white wines. However, Umbria is now claiming its position on the map for its reds.  

If you are the type that likes their wines robust and complex seek out ones made from the sagrantino grape found around Montefalco. Facing extinction in the 1960s, thanks to investment, this grape which is naturally loaded with tannins has had something of a renaissance. More winemakers are springing up since the area was awarded DOCG status (the highest classification for Italian wines in 1992), 

Discovering pretty hilltop towns steeped in history

I went for a tasting at Cantina Goretti – this family-owned winery is a must if you are near Perguia. Although there was a mix of whites and reds to tempt the palate, the star of the show had to be the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG. Made from only sagrantino grapes, it explodes with flavours of blackberries, plums and raspberries. This should please even those with incredibly sophisticated palettes.

The other grape that has sparked interest in recent years is sangiovese. Once associated with cheap Italian reds, this main grape of central Italian reds produces wines that go down a treat. It is quite a difficult grape to get right. Often it is blended with cabernet sauvignon which gives the wine a certain richness. Sometimes merlot is added to the mix to take  the edge of the acidity.

At the Valle di Assisi, a delightful hotel just outside Assisi, I savoured Recanto  Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009, Vendemmia which came from its own vineyard. 

If you are not off to Umbria soon, you can sample its wines in the UK. Here are a couple which I can recommend.

Sagrantino di Montefalco, 2010, Milziade Antano, Umbria, Berry Bros. & Rudd, (,) £35
This superb wine packs a powerful punch yet it is silky smooth on the palette. Described by Berry Bros. Italian wine expert, David Berry Green, as the essence of Umbrian sagrantino,  this  spicy number unravels lip-smacking plummy tangs. With one sip you will appreciate the calibre.

Montefalco Rosso, 2010, Fattoria di Antano, Umbria, Berry Bros. & Rudd, (,) £19.95
Laced with raspberries, this is a zingy wine with hardly any noticeable tannins. This impressive creation that is redolent of Umbria will seduce you from the first taste.

By Daralyn Danns

For further information about tours and tastings in Umbria visit
For further information about Valle di Assisi, visit