Growing up, I heard the word "farmer" and the word connoted "hick." It was a negative thing. When I wanted to insult someone, I'd say things like, "You must have fallen off a turnip truck"--to me turnips were synonymous with farming. I didn't know much about farmers or farming, but I did know that I felt contempt. However, my views began to change when I began to be seriously interested in wine. At some point, I made the connection that a person actually had to grow the grapes that made the wine in my glass. As I grew more knowledgeable about wine, I became more aware that wine producers, at a very basic level, were farmers. My respect for farming grew with my understanding and my love of wine.
Like Josko Gravner and Miani's Enzo Pontoni, Paolo Bea embodies the farmer winemaker. Tucked away in Umbria--the roads are so confusing that I get lost just about every time I drive to the estate --the estate of Paolo Bea pays homage to nature in every choice that it makes. Father Paolo Bea instilled a respect for nature that his sons Giampero and Giuseppe honor in their work every day. From the way that Giuseppe grows the grapes without any chemical intervention to the way that Giampero vinifies them without adding yeasts or sulfur--or even using temperature control--this estate treats nature like the important primal force it is, and it shows in its wines.
Today, I'm very proud to bring you four recent releases from Paolo Bea, and each of these red wines feels like a new chapter in a book--they're all connected, and they unfold as one long narrative, telling more of the Bea story. Paolo Bea doesn't like to define itself as "natural" or "organic." Likewise, it's hard to define the wines this Umbrian estate makes. You have to sit back, sip them, and experience them in all their beauty. They're pure, they're natural, and they're a little bit wild. They are the very essence of what happens when farmers make wines, and with every new vintage, my respect for Paolo, his sons, their estate, and their wines grows.