Hilltown Views in Umbria and Abruzzo
The estate is located in Abruzzo in the village Ofena near L’Aquila. Baron Luigi Cataldi Madonna founded the winery in 1925, and son Antonio expanded it in l968. Since then, another son Luigi has managed the winery and is now the winemaker. The vineyards are located on alluvial hilltops over 1,450 feet above sea level in an area well known for its abundant sunshine and considerable changes in temperature. Vineyards span about 70 hectares, and farming methods vary, depending on the location and exposure. In addition to the traditional grape varietals of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, plantings include Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. But in an effort to reestablish the complexity of traditional viticulture in Abruzzo, which for a long time had been limited to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, the winery has also recovered some indigenous varietals like Malvasia, Pecorino, Falanghina, and Fiano. The winery is located near the vineyard, and the aging cellars are located in the village under the family’s baroque 17th Century home. Lorenzo Landi is the winemaker.
One of the most important wineries in Montefalco, Colpetrone is a 63-hectare estate located in the Umbria region, a stone’s throw from Foligno, Trevi, and Bastardo. The hills around Montefalco to the south of Perugia represent the richest and most varied grape-growing and winemaking district in the region. The viticultural tradition of the district originated in the Middle Ages through the work of the Benedictines, who planted some of the most ancient and typical Umbrian varieties, one of them the celebrated Sagrantino. Each year from 1996 to 2004 and then again in 2007, the spectacular Colpetrone Sagantino has consistently won the coveted Tre Bicchiere (Three Glasses) award from the “Gambero Rosso” wine guide. Colpetrone joined the Saiagricola group in 1995, and Ricardo Cotarella is its well-known consulting enologist.
Owner Angelo Sansone named his business Peperoncino or “chilli pepper” in English. Originally from America, the peperoncino is an important ingredient in the cuisine of the Abruzzo region and has become connected with its regional identity. But his wine brand is Capestrano, which is also the name of the small village where the winery is located in the heart of the Abruzzo region in the foothills of the Gran Sasso Mountains. The goal of the winery is to make quality wine at favorable prices. The winemaker is Vitorio Festa.
Italian Wines of the Month
Capestrano – 2010 Passerina
Passerina is widely planted in central Italy and is an indigenous grapevine of Greek origin. Since the 1960s, the wine has been largely ignored, but in the last ten years, winemakers have once again taken an interest in it. The Capistrano Passerina has excellent aromatic intensity and suggests mature fruit, flowers, and spice. Dry and full, Passerina pairs well with light appetizers, cold meats, mild cheeses, and fish courses. Serve chilled.
Capistrano – 2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, this wine shows deep ruby color and aromas of black cherry, blueberry, plum, carob, and violet, typical of the grape variety. To preserve is fresh, vibrant flavors, the wine was aged for ten months only in stainless steel tanks and is well balanced with fruit flavors, acid, and soft tannins. Serve at cool room temperature with a wide variety of foods from pizza to grills and roasts.
Colpetrone – 2007 Sagrantino di Montefalco
This Tre Bicchieri winner is 100% Sagrantino, the noble grape of Umbria. Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, the wine packs dense and dark fruit aromas and flavors with a bit of earthiness and some vanilla and green pepper character. The wine is definitely full-bodied yet well balanced with acid and soft tannins. Writing for Wine Advocate, Antonio Galloni gave the Colpetrone 2007 Sagrantino 92 points. The wine is typically paired with roasted fowl and mature cheeses like gorgonzola and fontina. Serve at cool room temperature.
Colpetrone – 2008 Montefalco Rosso
A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot, this generously fruit-forward wine has scents and flavors of raspberry jam with notes of spice and vanilla. The wine may be 70% Sangiovese but is much richer and fruitier than many of its neighbors across the border in Tuscany that come across as more delicate and acidic. Serve at cool room temperature with roasted meats and pasta served with ripe tomato-basil sauces. Antonio Galloni gave the 2007 vintage 90 points and has not yet reviewed the 2008.
Cataldi Madonna – 2007 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Toní
Toni` is 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from the single vineyard called Cona. The grape variety Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is indigenous to the region and should not be confused with Tuscany’s Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Sumptuous in its richly-textured expression of dark fruit, black cherry and blackberry jam, this unusual, concentrated, fruity yet rustic wine was given the highest Tre Bicchieri award for excellence. Wine guide “Gambero Rosso” describes it thus, “Then the 2007 Toni`, possibly the best yet, its typical, caressing aromas evoking quinine and liquorice, plus an elegant, complex palate.” Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels, the Toni` should be served at cool room temperature.
Cataldi Madonna – 2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Malandrino
Malandrino is the Italian word for “naughty” or “rascal,” so named because it was originally conceived as a blend with Cabernet Sauvignon, an unusual combination at the time. But the Malandrino is now made with 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Unlike the Toni` above, just 20% of the wine was aged for 12 months in oak so that the Malandrino has fresher fruit flavors although it, too, is full-bodied and shows plenty of complex aromas. The 2006 vintage received the Tre Bicchieri award for excellence.
Italian Region of the Month
Umbria is a combination of pastoral countryside and mountain wilderness. Nurtured by the Tiber and its tributaries and Italy’s fourth largest lake, Lago Trasimeno, the region is known as the “green heart of Italy” and produces fine olive oil, truffles, grains, tobacco, and livestock, along with its vines. But Umbria also has a cluster of ancient cities, which offers glimpses into the past. The Umbri, Etruscans, and Romans all left their marks here. Magnificent Orvieto is perched on a plateau and looks down on vineyards below. Its grand Duomo is among the greatest of Italy’s Romanesque/Gothic cathedrals. Perugia’s ancient center embraces a 15th Century duomo, and the city’s most extravagantly decorated church, founded in the 10th Century and rebuilt in the 15th, stands beyond the old walls. Medieval Assisi with its beautiful views and piazzas is the home of St. Francis, who is buried in a basilica frescoed by Giotto among others. And the nearby hill towns of Todi, Spello, Gubbio, and Montefalco blend medieval monuments with Roman remains. Spoleto, surrounded by woods, is the loveliest of the hill towns and hosts one of Europe’s leading art festivals in June and July each year.
Noted mainly for its white wines, such as Orvieto, Procanico, Malvasia, Grechetto, and Trebbiano, the region also produces two noble red wines with special DOCG status, Torgiano Rosso, which is called Rubesco, and Sagrantino, both unmistakably grand wines, capable of aging for decades. The sweet white Vin Santo is a local favorite and is made from semidried Grechetto or Malvasia grapes.
Among the many outside varieties planted in Umbria, Merlot and Barbera have been prominent for more than a century. More recently, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Nero have produced some fine wines.
Up until the late 1980s, nearly half of Umbria’s vineyards were mixed agriculture, the vines often trained onto trees or grown alongside other crops. But today, most vineyards are monoculture, using vertical systems on wires strung between poles.