Perticaia Montefalco Rosso 2011, Italy
I t’s nice to have several bottles of versatile wine on hand during the holidays because you never know what visitors might like when they drop in.
I have several go-to wines, and the Perticaia Montefalco Rosso will join that group.
It is a beautiful wine, full of warm dark fruit notes, easy to pair with food, or serve by itself. In the glass it is a dark ruby, with aromas of raspberries, spices and wild berries.
Montefalco Rosso is a medium-bodied wine with cherry flavors mixed with blueberry and blackberry. The tannins are well integrated and smooth. Good acidity keeps the wine tasting crisp and fresh, with a long, smooth finish.
I would open this wine an hour before drinking it. If you pour it too soon, the tannins predominate and the wine is overly dry. The wine gets its extra pop and strong tannins from the Sagrantino grape, which grows only in the Montefalco area.
The blend is 70 percent Sangiovese, 15 percent Sagrantino and 15 percent Colorino, another grape grown mostly in the Umbria and Tuscany regions. Sagrantino is unique, with low yields, thick skins and the ability to age gracefully.
The grapes are all hand picked and taken to the new winery where fermentation is triggered by native yeasts found in the grape skins.
Guardigli works with his winemaker Emiliano Falsini to produce wines with local grapes that reflect the character of Umbria. As you sip this wine you can almost hear the guitars strumming in the cantinas scattered throughout the picturesque hilltop towns that dot the area.
The fresh, crisp fruit flavors come from aging 12 months in stainless steel vats and another six months in the bottle. This wine is not anywhere near maturity and should continue to develop in the bottle for another five years or so.
Italian wines can be confusing because there are so many of them. There are 900,000 registered vineyards in Italy’s 20 regions making wines from more than 1,000 grape varieties. You will continue to see more of these wines show up in American stores and restaurants because their quality continues to climb.
Montefalco is a beautiful town in Umbria, the region just south of Tuscany. Grapes have been grown there for centuries, but the signature Sagrantino nearly disappeared in the 1960s, until some growers made a push to revive it. The region was recognized as DOCG, Italy’s highest wine designation, in 1992.
Winery: Perticaia is named for the ancient Umbrian word for plow, the tool which local farmers say is the biggest reason they turned from raising sheep to practicing agriculture.
Owner Guido Guardigli felt a deep connection to the land during a trip to Umbria in the early 1990s. He saw the potential of the native Sagrantino grape and wanted to have his own winery.
He had retired after stints as director of winemaking at several estates in Umbria and Turscany, but after seeing the land around Montefalco, retirement was over. After buying the land he planted new vineyards. He built the winery to blend in with old farms around him.
Guardigi’s vineyards and olive groves blended in perfectly with the medieval towers, hilltop castles and villages in the area.
The company now has 37 acres, about half planted in Sagrantino with the rest split between Sangiovese, Colorino and Trebbiano Spoletino with a little Grechetto. There also are 250 olive trees. The sloping fields face south, southwest and are between 900 and 1,100 feet above sea level.
Perticaia is part of the Montefalco Consortium, which since 1981 has guided local producers in quality research and the promotion of the wines of their territory. The association has 213 members representing 82 percent of the certified production of Montefalco Sagrantino and Montefalco Rosso in the region.
Goes with: We had this with lobster ravioli and marinara sauce, and it was delicious. I thought pairing the lobster ravioli might be tricky because you might think it would be served with white sauce and a white wine.
But I like tomato sauce, and I thought the Montefalco Rosso was delicate enough for lobster. It was perfect. The deep, nuanced flavors went well with the sauce, and the light, fresh notes were a great complement to the lobster.
This is a wine you could serve with just about any course in a meal, especially an Italian meal. It would go well with salami and cold cuts, with pastas, or with some meat, from chicken to veal to beef. It would be perfect with pizza.
Perticaia Montefalco Rosso 2011, Italy