Montefalco 2024: A comprehensive review of the entire region beyond the Sagrantino Varietal

The second edition of A Montefalco was held on June 12th and 13th in the beautiful medieval village of Montefalco, Umbria. Anteprima Sagrantino was relaunched in 2023 to celebrate the current vintage release of Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG and the wines produced in the area. This year, alongside the 2020 release Montefalco Bianco DOC, Montefalco Grechetto DOC, Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC, Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino Superiore DOC, Montefalco Rosso DOC, and Montefalco Rosso Riserva DOC were included in the tasting room.

Montefalco, the “Balcony of Umbria”

Montefalco, often referred to as the “Balcony of Umbria,” is renowned not just for its picturesque landscapes but also for its exceptional vineyard terroir. Nestled in the heart of Umbria, this charming medieval town is surrounded by rolling hills that provide stunning panoramic views and ideal conditions for viticulture.

The unique terroir of Montefalco is characterized by a combination of clay-limestone soils, which offer excellent drainage and contribute to the complexity and richness of the grapes. The region’s mild climate, with its warm days and cool nights, ensures a slow and balanced ripening process, enhancing the concentration of flavors in the grapes.

The vineyards benefit from optimal sun exposure, thanks to the gentle slopes of the hills, which also protect them from harsh weather conditions. This perfect balance of soil, climate, and topography creates a distinctive environment that shapes the character and quality of Montefalco’s wines.

Sagrantino and the other native grapes of Montefalco

Sagrantino
Sagrantino is the hallmark grape of Montefalco. This indigenous variety is known for its thick skin, which gives the wine a deep color and high tannin content. Sagrantino wines are robust, with intense flavors of dark fruit, spices, and earthy notes. The grape’s natural tannins and acidity allow for long aging, resulting in complex and structured wines.

Sangiovese
Sangiovese is another significant grape in Montefalco. It is often blended with Sagrantino and other varieties to create Montefalco Rosso. Sangiovese brings bright acidity, red fruit flavors, and subtle spice, making the wines approachable yet complex. This grape thrives in Montefalco’s terroir, producing wines that are both vibrant and well-balanced.

Trebbiano Spoletino
Trebbiano Spoletino is a notable white grape variety in Montefalco. Known for its fresh and vibrant character, this grape produces wines with citrus, floral, and herbal notes. Trebbiano Spoletino’s crisp acidity and refreshing profile make it a favorite for white wine enthusiasts.

Grechetto
Grechetto is another important white grape grown in the region. It is valued for its full body, rich texture, and flavors of stone fruits, almonds, and minerality. Grechetto wines are often blended with Trebbiano Spoletino to add complexity and depth.

The Cradle of Wine Tourism in Umbria

Wine Tourism in Montefalco
Montefalco is a top destination for wine enthusiasts, providing a unique opportunity to explore vineyards, wineries, and the winemaking process. The region’s picturesque hills, dotted with vineyards and olive groves, create a serene backdrop for wine tours and tastings. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local culture, learning about traditional and modern winemaking techniques directly from passionate producers.

The Strada del Sagrantino
The Strada del Sagrantino is a well-established wine route that weaves through the Montefalco region, highlighting its premier wineries and vineyards. This scenic route offers a comprehensive wine tourism experience, featuring:

Vineyard Tours
Travelers can visit some of the most renowned vineyards in Montefalco, where they can walk through the rows of vines, learn about the unique terroir, and understand the meticulous care that goes into cultivating the grapes.

Wine Tastings
Along the Strada del Sagrantino, visitors have the opportunity to taste a variety of wines, including the celebrated Sagrantino di Montefalco and Montefalco Rosso. These tastings often include guided sessions with winemakers, providing insights into the characteristics and production methods of each wine.

Culinary Experiences
The Strada del Sagrantino also emphasizes the connection between wine and local cuisine. Many wineries feature on-site restaurants or partner with nearby eateries to offer food and wine pairings, showcasing Umbrian culinary delights that complement the region’s wines.

Montefalco 2020 Vintage report

Vineyard Conditions:
The 2020 vintage in Montefalco was marked by a dynamic climate. A mild and dry winter gave way to an early spring with above-average temperatures. However, an unexpected cold snap brought snow, frost, and hail to some areas. Persistent, heavy rainfall in May and June provided an excellent water supply, helping the vines endure the extreme summer heat, especially in July. The end of August saw a shift to cooler and more humid conditions, resulting in a relatively late harvest. By the end of September, the dry climate yielded healthy, perfectly ripe, and well-balanced grapes.

Cellar Results:
The balanced and gradual harvest of 2020, particularly for later-ripening varieties such as Sagrantino and Trebbiano Spoletino, allowed for the highest quality grapes to be brought into the cellar. Despite some areas being affected by spring frosts and hail, the overall quantity of the harvest was notable. The resulting wines from this vintage are exceptional, showcasing perfected pulp maturity, vibrant and dynamic profiles, and impeccably mature tannins. The wines are not only appealing now but also have strong potential for long-term aging, making the 2020 vintage a standout year.

Exploring the Vineyards and Wineries of Montefalco

Scacciadiavoli
A landmark estate in Montefalco, Scacciadiavoli has been producing wine since 1884 and was bought by the Pambuffetti family in 1954. Scacciadiavoli means “to cast out the devils,” and is taken from a local 19th century exorcist who was known to use wine while performing his rituals. Today, the winery is a state-of-the-art 4-level facility allowing for gravity flow throughout the entire production. A visit to the winery will include a guided tour and a selection of tastings to choose from paired with Pambufetti family products or even lunch.

Pardi
The three Pardi brothers, Alfredo, Francesco, and Alberto started making wine in 1919 at the local hospital in Montefalco. Eventually their wines were shipped all over Italy, including the Vatican. Today their great-grandsons Gianluca Rio and Alberto Mario keep the family tradition alive. With 11 hectares of vines, they grow the local varieties Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Grechetto and Trebbiano Spoletino, but also international grapes like Merlot, Cabernet and Chardonnay.

Le Cimate
Le Cimate winery represents the culmination of over 200 years of agricultural dedication by the Bartolini family. Beginning with farming in the 1800s, transitioning to viticulture in the 1960s, and strategically purchasing land in 1992, the family finally began building their winery in 2011. Located at 400 meters and nestled against the Martani Mountains, the winery benefits from an excellent diurnal temperature shift and regular winds that keep the vines healthy. Surrounding their 23 hectares of vineyards are 33 hectares of olive groves and 15 hectares of hazelnut orchards. Utilizing the latest technology, the winery produces wines from an impressive array of grapes, including native varieties and international favorites such as Chardonnay, Viognier, Vermentino, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tabarrini
Giampalo Tabarrini, the fourth generation of his family, took control of their agricultural estate in the late 1990s and transformed it into the winery it is today. His vision is focused on terroir, with three bottlings selected from distinct vineyard parcels to highlight their unique expressions. In addition to 15 hectares of vineyards, the estate includes olive groves and wheat fields, from which they produce their own stone-ground flour, perfect for making pizza, pasta, and desserts.

Lungarotti
Founded in the 1960s by Giorgio Lungarotti, the family estate is located in Montefalco and Torgiano, just 30 minutes northwest of Montefalco towards Perugia. The winery is a family affair, now run by Giorgio’s two daughters, Chiara and Teresa. Their mother, Maria Grazia, was a pioneer in wine tourism, creating the region’s first wine museum in the 1970s and, more recently, an olive and olive oil museum. Teresa was one of Italy’s first female oenologists, and her children, Francesco and Gemma, manage the estate’s sales and events. All their wines have been organic since 2010.

Arnaldo Caprai
Founded in 1971 by Arnaldo Caprai, a textile entrepreneur, the winery was passed to his son Marco in 1988 when Marco was only 21. Marco has expanded the estate from just 12 acres to a thriving 370-acre vineyard. Early on, he chose to drastically reduce the quantity of grapes to focus on quality. Believing in Sagrantino’s full potential, he began exporting dry Montefalco Sagrantino to the U.S. even before it achieved DOCG status, paving the way for an international revival of Sagrantino. The state-of-the-art winery in Montefalco offers multiple tours and tastings on its panoramic terrace or in the vineyards.

Antonelli
Originally owned by the Bishop of Spoleto for over 600 years, the property was bought by Francesco Antonelli in 1883. Today, the Antonelli estate spans 430 acres in the heart of the Montefalco territory. The variety of terrain, from rich clay deposits to rocky limestone, results in several microclimates, with each plot expressing its own nuances. The cellars are completely underground, allowing for the use of gravity flow during production. The grapes, mostly Sagrantino and Sangiovese for reds and Grechetto and Trebbiano Spoletino for whites, are all organic. Visitors are welcomed in the beautifully restored antique farmhouse, Casale Satriano, which includes six apartments and a swimming pool.

Romanelli
Originally owned by the Bishop of Spoleto for over 600 years, the property was bought by Francesco Antonelli in 1883. Today, the Antonelli estate spans 430 acres in the heart of the Montefalco territory. The variety of terrain, from rich clay deposits to rocky limestone, results in several microclimates, with each plot expressing its own nuances. The cellars are completely underground, allowing for the use of gravity flow during production. The grapes—mostly Sagrantino and Sangiovese for reds and Grechetto and Trebbiano Spoletino for whites—are all organic. Visitors are welcomed in the beautifully restored antique farmhouse, Casale Satriano, which includes six apartments and a swimming pool.

Tenuta Bellafonte
Located just outside Bevagna, Tenuta Bellafonte was started by Peter Heilbron, a successful businessman from Milan who fell in love with Umbria and the unique terroir of Montefalco. The winery is dedicated to sustainability and biodiversity, using solar panels and a biomass boiler to minimize environmental impact. Both the wine production facility and cellar are underground, blending seamlessly with the landscape. The vineyards are surrounded by forests and a massive olive grove with 2,500 trees, which are used to produce their own olive oil. They grow Sagrantino, Sangiovese, and Trebbiano Spoletino grapes. A large country estate was built to welcome visitors, offering seven charming bedrooms, a lush garden, and an indoor pool.

Cantina Tudernum
Established in 1958 by a group of vineyard owners who decided to join forces to market their wines as a cooperative, they grew from only a few hectares of vines to the 400 hectares they have today. Since the 1990s, they have invested in quality and technological improvements to produce an impressive variety of wines in both modern and classic styles, including rare native varieties.

UK Sees Surge in Wine Tourism

WineGB has released its first wine tourism report, revealing a significant surge in visits to UK vineyards and wineries. The recent findings indicate that visits have surged by 55% in the past two years, underscoring the growing popularity of wine tourism in England and Wales.

The report further indicates that 1.5 million people visited UK vineyards and wineries last year, accounting for a quarter of the total income for these establishments. The industry anticipates continued growth and investment, with WineGB forecasting further expansion in the coming years.

WineGB’s 2024 Industry Survey, which captured responses from over 130 members accounting for more than 90% of UK wine production, provides a detailed snapshot of the sector’s forward momentum. The survey reveals that there are currently 300 vineyards and wineries actively engaged in wine tourism.

Among the top activities attracting visitors include:

275 cellar doors and shops
260 guided tours and tastings
103 venues for hire
97 self-guided tours
92 places to stay and eat
38 picnic areas

A notable 42% of inbound visitors expressed high interest in visiting a winery. According to Nicola Bates, CEO of WineGB, commented on the report’s findings: “Our Manifesto for Growth identified essential policies for accelerating our sector’s development. Today’s report showcases the immense value and importance of wine tourism in our industry. It’s our call to action for policy changes in tax, planning, and marketing to unlock the full potential of wine tourism and reach 16 million visitors.

North America’s Six Top Wine Regions for a Cycling Getaway

For wine lovers who love the outdoors, combining the enjoyment of wine tasting with leisurely cycling through some of North America’s most picturesque vineyard regions offers a unique and wonderful experience.

Wine regions like Napa Valley, the Finger Lakes, and Niagara are not only renowned for their exquisite wines, but they also feature some of the most bicycle-friendly routes and amenities.

Here is a guide that takes you through these areas, promising lots of adventure, indulgence, and an appreciation of these wonderful wine regions: https://shorturl.at/zL08Z

Assovini Sicilia Celebrates 25 Years

Assovini Sicilia celebrated a double anniversary this year: twenty-five years since its founding, and twenty years since the first edition of Sicilia en Primeur.

A special event was recently held in May during Sicilia en Primeur 2024, which included the preview of the latest vintage. This was a record edition with over one hundred journalists, including national and international press, ten enotours, five masterclasses, fifty-nine wineries and over three hundred labels for tasting.

Cultivating the Future, the claim chosen for this edition, takes stock of the first twenty-five years, emphasizing Assovini Sicilia’s role as a leading player and witness to the Sicilian wine renaissance.

Diego Planeta, Lucio Tasca d’Almerita and Giacomo Rallo signed the articles of association of Assovini Sicilia in 1998. Eight wineries were the first to join the association, endorsing that far-sighted, courageous, revolutionary vision, which saw associationism as a winning strategy to promote Sicily.

Twenty-five years later, the dream of the “founding fathers” to attribute cultural, promotional and storytelling value to Sicilian wine has been fully realized.

The strong wind of change and evolution continues to push the association forward, which, driven by the spirit of teamwork and system, has recently become a beacon in the wine scene, demonstrating not only that in Sicily, wine production is of quality, the managerial profile of the companies is competitive, and wine is a cultural ambassador to the world, but that the Sicily that knows how to team up is a winner.

“I am proud to represent an association that has always conveyed and promoted a contemporary image of Sicily, linked to traditions, dynamic, and elegant,” comments Mariangela Cambria, President of Assovini Sicilia. – Thanks to the courage of those who believed in associationism, defying all cultural resistance and, putting themselves on the line without protagonism, believing in teamwork, today, throughout the world, Sicily is a brand with a powerful and profound cultural value and international appeal. Assovini Sicilia was born from a vision and a plan that pushed the island towards new horizons, made it known throughout the world for its beauty and history. A story whose telling was entrusted to the narrative and symbolic power of wine. The great revolution of Assovini Sicilia was to believe in wine as a cultural product, with potential that is extraordinary and unique, before being economic.”

The story of these extraordinary twenty-five years, divided into multiple themes – the evolution of the vineyard, the cultural value of wine, perception in the American market, wine tourism and the Next Generation – was the heart of the “Cultivating the Future” conference, moderated by Gioacchino Bonsignore, a Mediaset journalist, inside the monumental complex of San Domenico in Cefalù.

Bonsignore retraced the history of Assovini Sicilia through those who have supported the vision and path of the association over the years.

«It’s a bit like what happened with the Italian language: It was born in Dante’s Florence, in the fourteenth century, but the precursor is the Sicilian School of the court of the “Stupor Mundi”, Frederick II of Swabia, in the thirteenth century.

Members of Assovini Sicilia speak about history, culture and values. They are all aiming for exports: Europe confirms itself as the main export market, for 95.7% of the companies, followed by North America. «I have witnessed the Sicilian wine renaissance firsthand over the past twenty years, and writing about the wines of Sicily has given me some of the most rewarding professional moments. I am deeply convinced that the bright future of Italian wine begins here, in Sicily, in the heart of the Mediterranean” – states Monica Lerner, an American journalist and wine critic for Robert Parker Wine Advocate.

Alessio Planeta, Antonio Rallo and Alberto Tasca, sons of the original founders, took up the torch and carried forward the initial plan of teamwork that laid the foundations of the winning “wine system” of Assovini Sicilia.

«I have always been convinced that collaborating and sharing long-term objectives is the right way to create value and promote our extraordinary wine-growing contexts.
Therefore, associationism for me has been and continues to be a successful path, which fully embodies the spirit of collaboration and commitment to excellence that characterizes Sicilian wine-growing,” comments Antonio Rallo, past president of Assovini and current President of the Consortium for the Protection of Sicily DOC wines.

Alessio Planeta defines the time span and history of the Sicilian vineyard in three emblematic eras: the enchantment of the past, the fervor of the 1980s and the vitality of the new millennium. «Each stage tells a story, interwoven with numbers, trends and varieties that reflect our commitment to the future. It is not just an exercise in meditation, but a bridge to tomorrow, shaped by family experience and innovation. In a world where we export to 75 markets, operating in five different Sicilian regions, we rely on the wisdom of our predecessors, like my uncle Diego Planeta, and our vision,’ adds Alessio Planeta, CEO and President of Planeta Winery.

Not only quality production and promotion abroad, Assovini Sicilia has won the bet on wine tourism as a tool for telling the story of the territory and its historical and wine-growing heritage.

Today, 84.8 % of the member companies have implemented a series of wine tourism services in their wineries that are true wine experiences, contributing to the evolution of wine tourism services from simple wine tastings to a part of experiential tourism.
In Sicily, the wine experience is a metaphor for a land that is changing and that has managed to enhance an asset, the wine industry, capable of representing our Sicily at its best,’ commented Marcello Mangia, president and CEO of Mangia’s – Aeroviaggi and host of the Sicilia en Primeur conference.

With its roots firmly anchored in tradition and the past, Assovini Sicilia is laying the foundations for the future by continuing to follow the winning trajectory and strategy that has led the association to celebrate these first twenty-five years successfully. The wineries are preparing for the generational transition: About 78% of the member wineries have already integrated a new generation into the company management. Within the association, the ‘Next Generation’ group has been created to represent the new generations of Assovini Sicilia, young people under 40 years of age who are already operational and family members within family businesses and who, guided by the example of Assovini, are committed to creating a team that looks to the future and to the enhancement of the Sicilian wine-growing territory. Among the new group’s main areas of intervention: communication, training and promotion of the territory.
«I believe that the NextGen of our entrepreneurial families have very clearly in mind what kind of ancestors they want to be: And this is how they will transform business models, here in Sicily and in the wine industry as in all sectors and geographical areas,’ Giovanna Gregori, executive director of AIDAF – Italian Family Business, commented during the conference.
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Sicilia en Primeur, the event conceived of and organized by Assovini Sicilia since 2004, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. An itinerant event that has based its success on a winning format: combining the preview of the latest vintage wines with visits to wineries and territories, telling the story of Sicily’s historical-archaeological and landscape beauties through the stories of wine.

“With Sicilia en Primeur, wine becomes an instrument of narration not only of the wine heritage but also of the human and historical heritage of Sicily. Wine is the leitmotif that unites the stories of the producers with those of the territories, weaves tales, joins pieces of a unique mosaic where Sicily is an extraordinary wine-growing continent” President Mariangela Cambria concludes.

Italian Wine Travel Pioneer and Writer Filippo Magnani Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge in Italy

Celebrating a quarter-century of excellence, Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge, led by Filippo Magnani, commemorates its 25th anniversary, marking a significant milestone in delivering unparalleled wine travel experiences throughout Italy. As a renowned wine travel expert and wine writer, Magnani has spent decades exploring and documenting Italy’s rich wine heritage, showcasing its diverse destinations and the personalities behind its celebrated wines. This occasion reflects not only the success of Fufluns Wine Tours but also Magnani’s contributions to the global appreciation of Italian wine culture through his writings and curated experiences.

Castello di Monsanto, Barberino Val d’Elsa , Chianti, Toscana, Italia

Inspired by the flourishing wine tourism industry in Napa Valley during the 1990s, Magnani recognized Italy’s untapped potential and sought to elevate the wine touring experience in his native country. In July 1999, he founded Fufluns Wine Travel Concierge, pioneering the path as the first Italian wine travel planner dedicated exclusively to Italy’s rich wine heritage. Named after the Etruscan God of Wine, Fufluns, under Magnani’s stewardship, has built a reputation for its immersive itineraries that seamlessly blend ultra luxury experiences with Italy’s undiscovered gems. Fufluns unwavering commitment to authenticity, quality, and personalization has cemented its status as a leader in the industry, creating the opportunity for people from around the world to engage with the wine regions and people of Italy.

“Reflecting on 25 years of Fufluns Wine Tours, I am filled with gratitude for this quest we’ve undertaken,” says Filippo Magnani, Founder and Supervisor, who oversees a team of ten wine expert guides – all holding WSET or Master Sommelier certifications. “We craft a diverse range of thoughtfully designed wine travel experiences led by a team of knowledgeable wine experts, ensuring an authentic and enriching experience for each guest, from avid wine enthusiasts and collectors to wine schools, wine clubs, and industry professionals such as sommeliers and importers.”

Magnani’s extensive experience in the wine trade, including holding the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Diploma (DipWSET), as a wine writer, and wine travel advisor, has enriched Fufluns’ offerings with depth and sophistication. His and his team’s commitment to excellence and their ability to weave together the cultural, historical, and sensory aspects of Italian wine make Fufluns Wine Tours not just a journey, but a celebration of Italy’s enduring wine legacy.

To celebrate the company’s 25th Anniversary, Magnani and his team are thrilled to debut an enhanced Fufluns website, featuring a range of new personalized, comprehensive, and deluxe wine itineraries throughout Italy. Visit www.fufluns.com to learn more. Filippo is also pleased to showcase a refreshed version of his personal website, www.filippomagani.it, focused on his writings and collaborations, consulting experiences, and career achievements.

In addition, Magnani is proud to announce the launch of a quarterly newsletter, along with a new logo ”A Journey Through Italian Wines”. Featuring captivating insights into Italy’s wine destinations, exclusive interviews with key personalities in the wine and hospitality industry, detailed wine tasting notes, and selected excerpts from Magnani’s personal blog, Tales Behind The Wines, this newsletter aims to further enrich the understanding and appreciation of Italian wine culture among enthusiasts and professionals worldwide.

Furthermore, throughout 2024, Magnani will personally lead tours for various wine club groups and private wine collectors across Italy. These tours, featuring long-standing partners and loyal clients, are a special celebration of Fufluns’ 25th anniversary, allowing Magnani to share the beauty and richness of Italy’s wine regions and producers with those who have supported his journey. As Fufluns continues to innovate in the wine travel space, Magnani’s goal is to strengthen his expert team, further enhancing Fufluns’ ability to offer unique and memorable wine experiences while maintaining the personal touch that has distinguished them in the industry.

Magnani will also be participating in a charity auction as part of The Golden Vines Awards this October in Madrid. For this event, he has created a special auction item: “VIP Experience — Discovering the Iconic Bolgheri”, in which he will personally accompany six passionate donors on a visit to the historic estates of this famed Tuscan region. All proceeds will be donated entirely to the Gérard Basset Foundation.

Source: Fufluns Wine Tours