Speaking in vinous terms, Umbria tends to play second fiddle to Tuscany, its illustrious cousin to the north, yet this province of shadows offers many bright spots, not only in beautiful, historic towns and cities — Orvieto, Todi, Urbino, Perugia, Assisi — and varied landscape but in wine. Still relatively undiscovered are the wines made from the indigenous sagrantino grape around the tiny and fabulously cute hilltown of Montefalco — mount of the falcon — in eastern Umbria. Interestingly, though sagrantino is the area’s primary grape, Montefalco Rosso mainly involves the sangiovese grape, usually blended with sagrantino or other varieties. That’s the case with the Arnaldo-Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2007, a blend of 70 percent sangiovese, 15 percent sagrantino and 15 percent merlot; the wine ages 12 months, half in botti (large oak casks) and half in small French barriques. This is a dark, deeply spicy, savory red wine that bursts with notes of black currants and red cherries unfolding to a smoldering core of black tea, lavender, licorice, sandalwood and graphite and just a hint of sangiovese’s characteristic dried orange peel. It takes a few minutes for the wine to build layers of intense, meaty, smoky qualities that infiltrate clean ripe black and red fruit flavors permeated by the briery-brambly nature of earthy, smoothly-knit tannins. Spend enough time with the wine and it begins to reveal some austerity, especially through the slightly woody finish, but that’s after two hours. Hugely enjoyable, especially with a rich, savory pizza (as we had) or with similarly styled pasta dishes or grilled or roasted beef or lamb. 13 percent alcohol. Drink now through 2013 or ’14. Excellent. About $23.
Imported by Folio Fine Wine Partners, Napa, Ca. A sample for review.