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The Wines of Umbria

Wines of UmbriaThough their contiguous positioning renders it difficult to discriminate between Umbria and Toscana, a condition that the latter’s fame exacerbates, Umbria is very much its own region—one that has been coming into its own zone and attracting the notice of both critic and consumer. Umbria traditionally privileged other product categories, though it has struggled to realize prime positioning in its favored specializations—truffles and olive oil. Its terroir, however, has always served it well: the collaboration between sea and mountain breezes realizes a classic context for ripening, while the volcanic soils put the vines under “motivational” stress. These conditions have been behind some of the zone’s most successful wines.
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San Giovanni della Sala Orvieto Classico Superiore 2015 750ml
San Giovanni della Sala Orvieto Classico Superiore 2015 750ml
Price: $22.99

Juicy tropical and succulent stone fruits dance with crushed river rocks, white flower petals and citrus zest in this beautifully balanced Orvieto Classico Superiore. Priced at under $23 a bottle, this charming white is strikingly elegant and aromatic; a vibrant and refreshing streak of acidity enlivens the palate as the finish builds to a lingering crescendo. A blend of 50% Grechetto, 25% Procanico, and the remainder split between Pinot Bianco and Viognier, the components for this Orvieto were vinified separately, partially with cold maceration on the skins; then the wine fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel, remaining on the lees until bottling to impart character, structure and complexity.
Castello della Sala Muffato Della Sala 2010 500ml
Castello della Sala Muffato Della Sala 2010 500ml
Price: $44.99
Currently Unavailable

The cool, classic vintage of 2010 shows itself in the pervasive minerality that adds a piquant baseline to Antinori’s premier dessert wine, Muffato della Sala. Orchard and citrus fruits, crushed rocks, white flower petals, toasted nuts and a kiss of spice comprise the nose of this seductive wine, while the creamy, balanced palate derives energy from kicky acidity and an elegant mineral core. Derived primarily from grapes that have realized a considerable degree of concentration and been affected by noble rot, this sweet wine is intense and decadent. Regarded as the most accomplished in its class, Muffato della Sala is 60% Sauvignon Blanc blended with Grechetto, Traminer (also known as Gewurztraminer), and Riesling.
Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2014 750ml
Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2014 750ml
Price: $54.99
Currently Unavailable

2014 was a challenging vintage in Italy that separated good winemakers from great ones. The Antinori team shows its prowess in this rich, creamy and zesty ’14 Cervaro bottling. Sappy yet fresh, this wine bursts with orchard and stone fruits, crushed hazelnuts, white flower petals, and a kiss of toasty, spicy wood. Whooshing across the palate with vibrant acidity, this mid to full-bodied white has plenty of verve to match its opulent mouth-feel, and savory minerality complicates its sweet inner perfume. Beautifully structured and textured, the ’14 Cervaro is a triumph in a difficult vintage. A blend of 90% Chardonnay with 10% Grechetto, the grapes for this wine macerate separately in tanks, and the wines undergo malolactic fermentation in oak barrels; after five months, the blend is assembled and the wine ages for a year in bottle before release.
Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2015 750ml
Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2015 750ml
Price: $54.99

Crisp apples, plump pears, and succulent citrus mingle with a mélange of baking spices, pressed white flowers, crushed stones, and a kiss of vanilla in this beautifully balanced, nimble ’15 Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay. This wine snuggles your palate with dry extract, but its vibrant core of minerality keeps it light on its feet. Savory minerals, sweet fruit and lemony acidity complement one another in the wine’s resonant, classy finish. A blend of 90% Chardonnay with 10% Grechetto, the grapes for this wine macerate separately in tanks, and the wines undergo malolactic fermentation in oak barrels; after five months, the blend is assembled and the wine ages for a year in bottle before release.
(Antinori) Castello della Sala Pinot Nero 2014 750ml
(Antinori) Castello della Sala Pinot Nero 2014 750ml
Price: $59.99

Crushed violets, warm baking spices, sun-warmed earth, saline minerals and fresh-cut herbs frame the pure red berry fruits in this supple, harmonious 2014 Pinot Nero from Antinori’s estate in Umbria. Vibrant yet caressing, this wine unleashes a sweet inner perfume that finds its complement in a savory core of minerals that linger on the very satisfying, lengthy finish. The grapes for this wine spend ten days macerating on the skins in stainless steel; then, they're fermented in temperature-controlled barrels, followed by malolactic fermentation and aging for around eight months in barrique and another fifteen in bottle before release. Enjoyable now or years down the road, this Pinot Nero from Antinori is impressive.
Paolo Bea Arboreus Umbria Bianco 2011 750ml
Paolo Bea Arboreus Umbria Bianco 2011 750ml
Price: $59.99

Bea's Arboreus Bianco is a full-figured amber-hued wine that's weighty, lush, and utterly delicious. A white that drinks like a red, Arboreus Bianco has a mouth-filling, satisfying feel that’s complemented by lively acidity and a volcanic mineral core. Ripe golden apricots, dried orange peel, a touch of honey, white flower potpourri, and a dash of warm baking spices combine to make this wine delicious--and a fantastic complement to a wide range of foods from white meats to hearty seafood to pungent cheeses. Bea’s Arboreus Bianco gets its name from old pre-phylloxera vine Trebbiano Spoletino rootstock whose vines are trained into tree-like shapes. The wine’s intense flavor comes from the its grapes’ fermenting on the skins for about four weeks and sitting on its lees for more than two years before bottling.
Paolo Bea Rosso de Veo Umbria IGT 2010 750ml
Paolo Bea Rosso de Veo Umbria IGT 2010 750ml
Price: $64.99
Currently Unavailable

Juicy, brambly fruit meets underbrush, earth and incense in the animale, fleshy and kinetic ’10 Rosso de Véo. Chewy tannins, electric acidity, and a sweet inner perfume work in concert to make this a classic vintage of Rosso de Véo. A mesmerizing wine that showcases the kinder, gentler side of Sagrantino, Rosso de Véo derives from the estate’s youngest Sagrantino vines, mostly the Cerrete vineyard, the highest point of Bea’s estate at about 1,300-1,500 feet above sea level. Bea vinifies the de Véo in the same fashion as its Montefalco Sagrantino, a painstaking multi-step process that includes a 40-50 day cuvaison, a year of aging in stainless steel, two years in oak barrels, and another year in bottle before release.
Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito 2009 375ml
Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito 2009 375ml
Price: $94.99

Complex, interesting, compelling and surprising, Paolo Bea ’09 Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito is not a wine that you can relegate to one category. Bright garnet in the glass, this mono-varietal Sagrantino wafts with juicy cherries and dried berries, warm cigar wrapper, saline minerals, grilled herbs, balsamic and a kiss of citrus zest. At once sweet and savory, this Passito-style wine holds the palate in delicious tension; it’s a pure, energetic, complicated expression of Sagrantino, and it could only come from Umbria’s master. Bea let the grapes dry for a few weeks, concentrating their sugars and flavors, and then let them ferment with skin contact for 39 days before aging for almost three years on the lees in stainless steel, and bottling the wine almost five years after harvest. Just 200 cases made.
Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco Pagliaro 2008 750ml
Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco Pagliaro 2008 750ml
Price: $104.99

Sagrantino is the world’s most tannic grape, but it meets its ultimate match in Paolo Bea, Italy’s foremost natural winemaker. Classic brambly blue and black fruits lay on a dark foundation of smoke, warm saddle leather, cigar wrapper, incense and spice in this spellbinding wine. Bea’s ’08 Montefalco Pagliaro demonstrates the challenges of this chilly vintage in its linear, almost architectural structure and its muscular, age-worthy tannins. Hand crafted from organically grown Sagrantino, the grapes macerate for about 40 days and age for ten months in stainless steel, followed by about two years in used oak. While this wine will need some time in the cellar before true approachability, it’s going to be nearly ageless as time melds its kaleidoscopic flavor palate with its nervy acidity and chewy tannins. Fewer than 1,500 cases produced.
Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2012 1.5L
Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2012 1.5L
Price: $109.99
Currently Unavailable

Always one of our very favorite Italian whites, the ’12 Cervaro della Sala complements its stone and citrus fruits with a lovely saline minerality, putting its notes of toasted hazelnuts, yellow herbs, and tropical fruit at the forefront. Sporting soils of clay, volcanic sediment and Pliocene fossils, the rolling land at Castello della Sala, named after its beautiful medieval fortress, imparts a mineral inflection to its wines, and Antinori’s careful winemaking puts this Umbrian terroir front and center. Umbria’s warm 2012 vintage kept Antinori’s team on their feet, but mindful observation and lots of experience allowed them to pick the Chardonnay and Grechetto at an optimal time, making for a wine that’s lush yet fresh, intense yet delineated, juicy yet savory--and absolutely balanced.