Bordering on Tuscany and right above Rome is the lesser-known and lesser-traveled region of Umbria. Here you’ll find some of the most delightfully undervalued Italian wines. It is a region of lush rolling hills, hilltop villages and historic medieval villages like Orvieto and Assisi (home to Saint Francis of Assisi). It is the only Italian region without a coastline or international border. Umbria is Italy’s fourth smallest region and produces only a third as much wine as Tuscany, but the winemakers in this intimate area buried in the heart of Italy are undergoing a period of exciting change as Umbrian wines become more known and respected on the world sccene. The wine world is now discovering this beautiful and lesser-known region.
Both of the wines featured in this month’s selection showcase native varieties that have only recently made a comeback. Perticaia Spoleto’s Trebbiano Spoletino, is made from the rare clone of Trebbiano called Trebbiano Spoletino. Leonardo Bussoletti’s Cilliegiolo di Narni “Brecciaro” is made from the Cilliegiolo grape. We hope you enjoy these tastes of ancient Italy!
Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist
PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valley
Region / Country of Origin: Trebbiano Spoletino IGT, Umbria
Winemaker: Guido Guardigli
Price/bottle, Price/case: $22.00 btl/ $237.60 case
Suggested Food Pairing: Fish and seafood, White meat, Aperitif
About the Winery: The Perticaia Estate began making wine in the year 2000, when Guido Guardigli became the proprietor. The farm was originally about 20 hectares, of which 2.5 were olive trees and 1.5 were vineyard. This has now been transformed by the planting of 14 hectares of vineyards and the building of a modern winemaking cellar.
About the Winemaking: Perticaia Spoletino is made up of 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. The vines are planted on a hillside with a gentle slope and are at 300 to 350 meters above sea level. The grapes were harvested in the 3rd week of October before undergoing cold clarification and fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged at least six months on fine sediment.
Tasting Notes: The Perticaia Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino pours a straw yellow with green undertones. On the nose, the wine emerges with notes of tropical fruit, yellow flowers, and flinty minerality. On the palate, the wine is full-bodied but maintains freshness and acidity as well. The wine can easily age 4-5 years in the bottle, notably improving its quality over time and acquiring even greater complexity.
Region / Country of Origin: Narni Ciliegiolo IGT, Umbria
Winemaker: Leonardo Bussoletti
Price/bottle, Price/case: $32.00 btl / $345.60 case
Suggested Food Pairing: Salumi, Aged cheeses
About the Winery: The Leonardo Bussoletti winery was founded in 2008. The estate is located in Narni, in the province of Terni, a region lush for viticulture. Leonardo tends to 7 hectares of vines alongside agronomist Federico Curtaz. The vineyard is also home to an olive grove.
About the Winemaking: The vineyard sits on clay and calcareous soils, and the Ciliegiolo is 40 year old vines. Vinification is spontaneous with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged for 12 months on the lees, with 70% in stainless steel and 30% aging in oak barrels. The wine is then aged 7 months in bottle before entering the market. The Ciliegiolo grape is not an easy grape to grow or manage, and nearly went extinct. Leonardo Bussoletti believed in the grape and was a key player in reviving it. He and Federico Curtaz worked with the University of Milan to research ancient variety.
Tasting Notes: Ciliegiolo Brecciaro pours an intense ruby color. The nose is vibrant with bright cherries, purple flowers, and baking spices. On the palate, the wine is velvety and full bodied.
'Agnello allo Zafferano' (Lamb with saffron)
In Italian this is 'agnello allo zafferano', an easy and delicious recipe any time of the year. The zone of Spoleto actually produces saffron, so look to buy a small pot or packet there to make the authentic dish.
Ingredients: a joint of lamb, olive oil, saffron, white wine, broth, salt and pepper
Put the lamb in a casserole dish with the salt and pepper and olive oil. Gently fry stirring frequently until the meat is brown. Do add now and again a little stock until the lamb is cooked. Just before removing from the heat, add the saffron which has been mixed with the remaining broth.