Hello and Happy Friday!
Earlier this week I had one of the really great experiences in recent memory, having lunch with Giampiero Bea of the legendary Italian estate, Paolo Bea.
While not widely known in the wine world, Paolo Bea is one of Italy’s most revered producers, and the gem of the Umbrian wine scene. The 15 hectare estate is traditional in every sense of the word. Only 5 of those hectares are vineyards with the rest used for the Bea farm where they produce, olives, vegetables, fruit and raise cattle. The Bea’s produce almost entirely what goes on their table to eat and drink. The namesake of the winery, Paolo Bea is still involved in the winery, while his sons Giuseppe (the oenologist) and Giampiero (vinification and commercial) have assumed leading roles.
Sagrantino is the great grape of the Montefalco DOCG, but Sangiovese and Montepulciano play major roles in the reds. Aside from their reds are two exceptional, world–class whites that will challenge the way you think about the white wines of the region. One can also not fail to mention the Passito, this is one of the most spectacular dessert wines I have ever had. Very difficult to make, it is something that anyone who loves sweet wines should try once in their life.
The quality and consistency of these wines is amazing. So much so that I decided to offer almost everything we tasted on today’s newsletter.
These wines have so much soul, that if you are a lover of Italian red wines no matter where they come from, you need to have some of these for drinking and cellaring.
Have a great weekend,
2007 “SANTA CHIARA, ” UMBRIA BIANCO
Santa Chiara is a blend of local varietals like Grechetto and Malvasia, along with Garganega, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. The grapes sit on their skins for a long time, which gives the wine its deep golden color. This is about as full–bodied as any white wine will get without the use of oak.
This will rock your white wine world. Wildly complex with notes of citrus peel, almonds, apricot, and herbs on the nose and palate. But really tasting notes are irrelevant because you have to taste this for yourself. A wine pairing dream, as the body and richness will work with grilled fish, poultry, veal or many pork preparations.
$48.99 BTL. / $587.77 CASE
2006 “ARBOREUS” TREBBIANO SPOLETINO, UMBRIA BIANCO
If I were to put together a mixed case of Italian white wines to take to a desert island, “Arboreus” would for sure make the cut. 100% Trebbiano Spoletino, this is fermented on its skin for three weeks! It is then aged in stainless steel for two years.
An absolutely brilliant white wine, that has a bit more delicacy than the “Santa Chiara. ” I would pair this with very simply prepared grilled white fish with vegetables. Only 3300 bottles produced.
$65.99 BTL. / $791.88 CASE – ONLY ONE CASE AVAILABLE
2006 “SAN VALENTINO, ” UMBRIA ROSSO
Nobody said that the people who run the appellation systems in Italy are geniuses. In their all–knowing wisdom (to be read in a very sarcastic voice), they tasted the ’06 and said it lacked color and had a light oxidative quality. So Giampiero was forced to slap on an IGT label instead, and mocked them on the top of the label.
’06 was a balanced and good vintage at Bea, and this wine is absolutely delicious. It is a blend of 60% Sangiovese with 30% Sagrantino and 10% Montepulciano. 40 days of fermentation and maceration with the skins. The ’06 has an amazingly fragrant herbal element to go with very delicate and seductive red fruits.
A great wine to match with roasted leg of lamb.
$33.99 BTL. / $407.88 CASE
2004 MONTEFALCO ROSSO “SAN VALENTINO”
From the San Valentino vineyard this is a blend of mostly Sangiovese with smaller chunks of Montepulciano and Sagrantino. 30 day fermentation and maceration on its skins, then aged for 3 years in steel and 4 months in bottle.
Elegance in a glass, this could be called the Burgundy of Umbria. It is drinking so well now and will continue to drink well over the next five years. Break out the little birds with this one, preferably my favorite little bird of all time, roasted squab with sage.
$61.99 BTL. / $743.88 CASE
2005 “ROSSO DE VÉO, ” UMBRIA ROSSO
Want immediate gratification? Then drink a bottle of “Rosso de Véo” now! This wine is a blend of the young vine fruit from Pagliaro and Cerrete (a future single cru wine). There is often a negative connotation with young vine fruit, but for me this wine proves that young vine fruit can make incredibly complex wine.
46 days fermented and macerated on skins, 12 months in steel, 2 years in big old oak barrels, before being aged in bottle for 1 year. This tows the line with both red and dark fruits, wild herbs, and a transcendent earthy aroma. A perfect wine to match with whole roasted beef tenderloin.
$61.99 BTL. / $743.88 CASE
2005 MONTEFALCO ROSSO RISERVA “VIGNA PIPPARELLO”
The seventh vintage produced for this single cru Riserva. 60% Sangiovese with the remainder, Sagrantino and Montepulciano. 42 days of fermentation and maceration, with 12 months in steel, 2 years in large oak barrels and 1 year in bottle.
A real wow wine! This is one of two Riserva’s produced at Bea, and is softer, and more elegant than the following with from Pagliaro. This can be drunk now, but will evolve through 2020+. A wine of great complexity.
$69.99 BTL. / $839.88 CASE
2005 MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO SECCO “VIGNA PAGLIARO”
Quite simply the best expression of the Sagrantino grape in Italy. Pagilaro is a single sight that produces a rich, and complex style of the grape. This sees 46 days of fermentation and maceration with the skins, 1 year in steel tank aging, then 24 months in large Slavonian oak, and 9 months in bottle before being released.
No Italian red wine enthusiast should be without “Vigna Pagliaro” in their wine life! The ’05 is an exceptionally beautiful wine that can be drunk with decanting now but will have no problem aging through 2020+.
$89.99 BTL. / $1079.88 CASE
2003 MONTEFALCO PASSITO
Since I first tasted this wine, I simply can’t stop thinking about it. Quite simply one of the best dessert wines I have ever had!
100% Sagrantino that was harvested in mid–October, and then placed on mats to dry and age for 4 months. After the drying process the grapes and skins are separated, and the wine is fermented for 36 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel containers for 50 months.
This laborious process coupled with low yields and great loss of wine during the process, results in a truly special wine. It starts off sweet in the mouth with notes of dried figs, golden raisins, coffee, and then brightens with blackberry notes, soft tannins, and almost dry finish. The length is absolutely amazing.
Giampiero mentioned that 2003 was one of the greatest Passito vintages that they could have imagined and feels that this wine will evolve for 10–15 years. But really, when a wine is this delicious, just have it on a very special occasion!
$109.99 PER 375 ML BOTTLE / $659.94 SIX–PACK CASE
2008 PAOLO BEA OLIVE OIL
If you are a true believer in the Mediterranean diet than you know that olive oil is the perfect finisher to most dishes. We had a dish at lunch that needed a little extra oomph, and out came the Bea Olive Oil. Absolutely magical stuff.
Most notable about this olive oil is its rich, almost buttery texture, with just a hint of bitterness on the finish. Believe or not I have been to an olive oil estate, tasted many oils in my life, and this is up there with one of the best. Like all the Bea wines, an oil of great character and sense of place.
$46.99 PER LITER BOTTLE