New winery, significant investment and the challenge of a big Italian red, Sagrantino di Montelfalco
There’s no mistaking when you arrive in Umbria, the scenery is exactly what you imagined: layers of different intensities of green surround you, vineyards, olive groves, oaks, together painting an uncontaminated and pristine environment.
It seems completely frozen in medieval times, and everything that surrounds us suggests just that, stone houses with red-shingled roofs, winding paths that thread across the countryside, a smattering of blackbirds here and there. Peace and tranquility reign.
Upon our arrival in Montefalco, we are greeted by Roberto Ricci and Michele Italiani, responsible for Briziarelli’s wine division, in a wonderful location, the Museum Complex of St. Francis, a combination literary café, wine bar, restaurant, museum and church. We are amazed by the beauty of the sixteenth century frescos, altarpieces and paintings, some of which are attributed to none other than Perugino, and a museum dedicated to the winemaking tools of the past recovered from the ancient cellars of the Friars from the Order of the Frati di Minori Conventuali.
And it’s right in one of these rooms that we get our first taste of the wines from Briziarelli: the “Red Brick” (Rosso Mattone) (25,000 bottles), a Rosso di Montefalco, with great personality, pure and honest, but never simple or ordinary, “Vitruvius” (10,000 bottles produced), a Sagrantino di Montefalco, from the top stuff, with verve both in the alcoholic levels and acidity, full-bodied with extra to spare and a pronounced tannic plot-line, but not overbearing, and finally the “1906” (10,000 bottles produced), the wine of the century, a Bordeaux blend with the intentional addition of Sagrantino, in order to transmit a stronger and more local territorial stamp, a task carried out perfectly in a wine that combines class and elegance with its full-bodied beauty.
After lunch and a more professional tasting of the wines, this time paired with dishes prepared by the chef at Citrus, we are invited to tour the vineyards on the principal means of transport in the countryside, a magnificent tractor complete with a wagon for towing, led by agronomist and winery handyman, Signor Gianni: it was like riding a Conestoga wagon train from the Wild West. Between one jolt and the next, we immerse ourselves among the green rows that sway amongst the surrounding slopes of the countryside.
From here you can enjoy the view from an unusual point of view, the center of the vineyard, from which we can glimpse the location where their new winery will be built, the vineyards of the most important people in the area, their neighbors, the nearby towns of Bevagna and Montefalco, in short, an incredible view that fulfills the eyes and the soul.
And speaking of the soul (spirito or “spirits” in Italian), let’s not forget the main reason for our visit, the wine. Just launched on the market, Briziarelli’s wines already show impressive results and great promise of future evolution.
A truly important achievement, carried out with great care, but with a calm that is completely “Umbrian”; every thing, variation and innovation that takes place, has been studied down to the smallest detail, and then put into action, dividing their time well, and in this regard we learn that the total production will reach 150,000 bottles within the next three years. Given that the first vintage was produced as recently as 2007, and that the Briziarelli family’s main activity is the production of bricks and shingles at one of Italy’s largest kilns, one could honestly say that this is a winery built brick by brick!
di Luciano Nebbia