Azienda Agricola Tabarrini Giampaolo, Montefalco, Umbria

 

Tabarrini Il Padrone delle Vigne Rosso dell’Umbria 2009  

As those of you who met him last year know, our friend Giampaolo Tabarrini is a bit of a mad genius / vinous missionary type. This is his “gateway drug” to his more massive and costlier pure Sagrantino bottlings, a tribute to his paternal nonno who passed great wisdom about life, viticulture and wine to him: Mostly Sangiovese with small doses of Sagrantino, Merlot and Cabernet drawn from vines 20-30 years of age, this wine is macerated on the skins for over a month to give it deep and complex flavors then fermented in steel and given an ever so slight oak glaze (one month in French barriques) before bottling. It’s been a big hit in our bar and will bring smiles at your dinner table as well.

 

Tabarrini Montefalco Rosso Colle Grimaldesco 2006, Umbria

Most Montefalco Rossi are “positioned” to compete with Chianti in the “nicer schoolnight red” category. This one has other plans and offers plenty of intense dark fruit, leather, earth and what a friend of ours calls “the Serious Moonlight”…a riff on a David Bowie song by which he means a warm and pleasant yet quite powerful face of The Dark Side. Giampaolo points out that it is “not a little brother of the Sagrantino but a wine that stands on its own with great potential to evolve…”. Primarily Sangiovese, this is jazzed up with a committed dose of Sagrantino plus a little Cab and Merlot for roundness, all of which are fermented on the skins for over a month.

 

Tabarrini Montefalco Sagrantino Colle Grimaldesco 2006, Umbria

Tabarrini Montefalco Sagrantino Colle alle Macchie 2004, Umbria

Somehow, while a consortium of physicists is still testing the world’s largest super collider in Switzerland, Giampaolo has managed to create a Black Hole in a glass bottle using only the sun, the unique terroir of Montefalco and minimalist cellar techniques. This one makes our beloved Pigmento (which translates as “inky”) look like Kentish Pinot Noir and brings a fully stocked larder of flavors to your table: plums, dark cherries and prunes, earth and smoke, aged meat and an exotic spicy note in the background. Mmmm Mmmm GOOD!

 

Tabarrini Montefalco Sagrantino Passito Colle Grimaldesco 2006, Umbria   375ml

Take all of the intense flavors of the dry version above, concentrate them by a factor of three and add enough sweetness to balance out the tannins and make it a dandy Porto substitute and you have this elixir of the gods. VERY limited, worth it!

 

Cantina Dionigi, Bevagna, Umbria

One of our best discoveries at VinItaly 2008, Signore Dionigi is, in fact, a wild eyed dreamer who reminds us both in appearance and spirit of Franco Pellegrini, the Mad Genius of the Oltrepò. Fantastice wines at affordable prices….for now!

Dionigi Montefalco Sagrantino Passito 2003, Umbria   375ml

Off the Hook!!!! Incredibly dark and rich but lively on the tongue with nice acidity to balance the sweetness. Our favorite dessert wine at VinItaly 2008.

 

Rocca di Fabbri, Montefalco, Umbria

Over a decade ago, this beautiful estate (which you really should visit if you are ever near there, they have excellent accommodations) was one of the most popular cantine in the store. Then owners Roberta and Simona Vitale had a brief fling with both international styling and a large national importer and we parted ways for a while. Well, neither of those worked out as well as they had hoped and now they are back to making fairly traditional wines and working with smaller, specialized agents who will give their wonderful wines the love and attention they deserve. During the time we were out of these wines we had a customer who, every time he came in the store, would wear a t-shirt he got at the cantina with the Sagrantino label on it and demand, “I’m buying these wines right now but when will you have some Rocca di Fabbri again?”. Well…NOW!….Benvenuto Belle!

Rocca di Fabbri Sagrantino Passito di Montefalco 2003, Umbria  500ml

Sagrantino Passito? This lush, round, strong, slightly sweet red is made by drying selected clusters of spicy and aromatic Sagrantino to half their normal volume then slowly fermenting until the alcohol puts a hit on the yeast. This is fantastic: it smells like raspberries in liqueur with maybe some cinnamon and it is soft and lush in the mouth but not too sweet. Roberta says it pairs well with hearty game dishes or with dessert. We can imagine it with Flourless Chocolate Cake, Dried Figs, Big Veined Cheeses, Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain”, an afternoon menage á trois…uh, sorry, it tends to make the mind wander!