Monday, December 27, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas Indeed

A few weeks ago, Colangelo and Partners PR, an agency that represents several Italian wineries, offered to send me a few bottles of "Umbrian wine, a Holiday alternative to Tuscan Sangiovese."

I received 2 bottles from the Arnaldo-Caprai winery a few days before Christmas so I decided to bring the bottles with me to Christmas Eve dinner at my friends' house.
We started the meal with a plate of cured meats - pepperoni, salami, prosciutto and coppa - providing the perfect opportunity to open the first bottle: Montefalco Rosso 2007 made primarily from Sangiovese with a bit of Merlot and Sagrantino (a grape found only in Umbria, as far as I know).

The Montefalco Rosso was a beautiful deep ruby color with a pleasing nose of red berries and a little earth. Before I dipped into the meats, I decided to try the wine on its own. It was slightly thin, farily dry and a little acidic, but the red berry fruit came through. The wine really began to shine once I indulged in some of the prosciutto and salami. The oil and fat from the meat cut through some of the acid showcasing the ripe fruit. This is exactly what this wine was made for and at $23 per bottle, I'd gladly bring this to a gathering or a dinner where I knew some hearty food would be served.
Before we finished the first bottle, I decided I needed to open the second bottle under the guise of wanting to taste it before my palate was shot. Truth be told, I was just curious and eager!

The second bottle was a Sagrantino di Montefalco Collepiano DOCG 2004 made from 100% Sagrantino. Other than the small amount of Sagrantino in the previous bottle, this was my first experience with the grape so I didn't quite know what to expect. I generally assume Italian wines will be slightly more acidic and earthy than other wines as they are made to be drunk with food. I also knew from the "DOCG" designation, that this wine had achieved certain standards in cultivation and processing in order to receive a top ranking from the powers that be within the Italian wine world. It didn't necessarily mean it would be better, but in general, wines with a DOC or DOCG designation have had to pass stricter regulations and have generally had a bit more care put into them. Simply put, I expected the wine to be good and I expected it to make the grilled filet mignon sing.

The Sagrantino was a deep ruby, almost purple color and had a beautiful nose of bright red fruit with a hint of oak. I also sense some gamey notes. This nose was right up my alley! As with the previous bottle, I decided to taste the wine by itself first. The Sagrantino held up a bit better on it's own. It had more balance than the Montefalco and the acid seemed to creep up slowly. Moreover, though it had 1% more alcohol than the Montefalco, it was well muted. Now you know why older wines and wines with DOC and DOCG designation cost more - generally they're better. And it only got better once I paired it with the filet. The red berry fruit absolutely shined and the spicey nutmeg notes just popped. Moreover, the gamey flavors that I detected on the nose came out on the finish and for those who've been following, you know I dig the game. Like the Montefalco, the body was a little thinner than I like, but all in all, this was a terrific wine. Frankly, I'm not sure I'd pay $60 for this, BUT if I had, I wouldn't have been disappointed.

Ultimately, I was impressed by Caprai's Umbrian wines and I was so glad I had the opportunity to taste them. I could see the Montefalco Rosso being a good "go to" wine for a party - especially if you need to drink a good amount to put up with with certain other partygoers (as i did on Christmas Eve). This is definitely a winery and a region I will look for in the future.

Until the next sniff, sip, quaff or the need to share my thoughts on Sparkling wines and Champagne,


Alli M.


elliej said...

And were the cured meats from Applegate Farms? Come on. Let's get a plug in here.

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