Destination: Umbria, Italy
Umbria is bordered by Tuscany to the west, the Marche to the east and Lazio to the south. Mostly hilly or mountainous, its topography is dominated by the Apennines, with the highest point in the region at Monte Vettore on the border of the Marche, and the Tiber valley basin, with the lowest point at Attigliano. It is the only Italian region having neither coastline nor common border with other countries.
Over the last few decades the quality of wine from Umbria has been steadily going up. Umbrian wines are often better value than wines from neighboring Tuscany because they are less well known. For example, when trying equivalently priced Montefalco Rosso (from Umbria) against a Rosso di Montalcino (from Tuscany), more often than not, the taster will prefer the wine from Montefalco.
Umbria has two red wines with the top Italian wine classification, DOCG (Denominazione Origine Controllata e Garantita), Sagrantino di Montefalco and Torgiano Rosso. Both these wines are grown in the hills south of Perugia, Umbria’s capital city. The Torgiano Rosso DOCG was created because of the superb wines being made at the Lungarotti winery in the town of Torgiano. Sagrantino di Montefalco is made by several cantinas (wineries) with vineyards in the hills near Montefalco. This powerful red wine is made from 100% Sagrantino grapes, a variety grown only in this area. The wine has to be aged in barrels for at least a year and can only be released 36 months after the harvest.
Montefalco Rosso is usually cheaper than Sagrantino, it has DOC status and is a blend of Sangiovese, Sagrantino and sometimes Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
There are many other superb red wines made outside these DOCG zones and again, the less well known an area is, the lower the price. Besides the usual Sangiovese blends many vineyards are producing superb “Super Umbrian” wines made with grapes not normally associated with the area.
Orvieto Classico is the most famous white wine from Umbria, it’s made from a blend of local white grape varieties and there are some really great wines being made. Most producers in Umbria make at least one white, often with Grechetto or Trebbiano grapes.