Wine of the Umbria region

The quality of the wine from the Umbria region is constantly improving. Umbria is really making a name for itself when it comes to wine. Most people are familiar with the famous wines from Tuscany such as the Chianti Classico, the Brunello di Montalcino and the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Top wines. But knowledge about wine from the Umbria region does end with drinking the famous Orvieto Classico. The Sagrantino and the Montefalco Rosso are still quite unknown in the Netherlands.
In this latest article for Polmone's Gazzetta, I take you to the wine of the Umbria region. When are the grapes harvested? How is wine made? What does the IGT, DOC or DOCG statement actually mean on the label of a bottle of wine? And which grapes are grown in the Umbria region for making wine? Finally, no fewer than 14 Umbrian top wines have made it to the famous wine guide of Gambero Rosso, the leading magazine in the field of food and drink in Italy.


The grapes are harvested throughout the Umbria region

The vendemmia or grape harvest in Umbria takes place from September to October. 
Maybe it would be nice to tell how the whole winemaking process works. For that I went to Paolo Sapio, the farmer from San Venanzo who wants to become self-sufficient (Slow life in Umbria). He was about to harvest. Unfortunately, I could not be with the harvest itself. But luckily a good friend took pictures that I could use for this article. The other pictures are from a few years ago when friends of ours started making wine for the first time.

Making wine

There is a lot of diversity of wine in the Umbria region.

How is wine actually made? We all know that grapes are picked, but what actually happens before you can drink a glass of that delicious liquid?
The process differs for making white and red wine.

Making white wine

Making wine from your own grapes for the first time. An acquaintance has a troublemaker. We are curious

When the white grapes are harvested, they are first destemmed in the so-called 'diraspatrice' and then stripped of their skin in the 'torchio', the grape press. The grape juice, the must, is poured into large barrels of stainless steel or synthetic resin and then alcohol formation starts. The sugars in the grape must ferment into alcohol. One month after the must has been put in the barrels, the sugar content is measured and the must is purified from all residues that have settled to the bottom of the must. This is quite easy because there is a tap at the bottom of the barrel at exactly the right height. For example, the winegrower can easily run the must into a clean barrel and the residues remain under the tap in the barrel.
This is done every month and after 5 months all sugars have been converted into alcohol. A final filtering is carried out and the new white wine is launched on the market in March.

Make red wine

When making red wine, things are a little bit different. When the red grapes are harvested, they are first destemmed in the 'diraspatrice', just like the white grapes. But the grapes are not peeled afterwards. Color and taste are thus better preserved. The must is then placed in stainless steel or synthetic resin barrels and left to ferment for 10 to 15 days. The must must be stirred every day and only pressed after 10 to 15 days and placed in stainless steel barrels. After another 10 to 15 days, the must is purified from the residues that have settled to the bottom of the barrel. Contrary to white wine, this purification is only done 2 to 3 times. The red wine has been ready to drink on 11 November since time immemorial. Around that date you will find the Novello, the new wine, in the shop again. Most of the red wine is put in a wooden barrel for another 2 years to mature further.

Four quality classes

Umbrian wines have undergone enormous development in recent years.
We know from archaeological finds that the Etruscans already produced wine in Umbria. The Romans especially appreciated the slightly sweeter Umbrian wine. Especially in recent years, due to increasingly modern vinification techniques, things are getting better with the Umbrian wine. Many Umbrian wines earn the DOC or DOCG designation. Since 1992, Italian wine has been officially classified into four classes. Below an example of 2 of the 4 classifications. The first 2 are IGT wines, the 3rd a DOCG

1. Vino da tavola

The class Vino da tavola, in Italian table wine, includes the simpler wines. No rules have been set for producing a vino da tavola. Often these wines are made from grapes from different regions of Italy. Incidentally, such a so-called blend can also be a great wine, the name vino da tavola certainly does not say everything

2. Indicazione Geografica Tipica, IGT

IGT is a kind of intermediate category intended for new wines. These are Italian wines that do not yet qualify for a traditional classification. The reason is that the winegrower concerned does not, for example, use traditional grapes or apply special vinification techniques. The classification does indicate that the wine comes from a specific Italian region. For example, at least 85 percent of the wine must come from the geographic area where it bears the name.

3. Denominazione di origine controllata or DOC

If you have a DOClisting, you must declare the number of vineyards and the yield per hectare to the Italian Chamber of Commerce. The DOC certification is monitored by an umbrella consortium, the responsible ministerial bodies and the anti-fraud institutions. If these DOC wines prove to be of substandard quality for five years, they will be downgraded to IGT wine or otherwise. With the DOC label you quickly think that this has to do with the quality of the wine. This does not have to be the case, the classification only guarantees the origin of the grapes and the production method used.

4. Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or DOCG

The label DOCG was introduced in 1980. The letter 'G' stands for Garantita, guaranteed, and this is to guarantee the quality of the wine. It is the highest rating for Italian wine and bound by the strictest wine laws in the world. Nowhere else are there so many requirements for the evaluation of the wine or is the legislation so strict. One of the main differences between DOC and DOCG is that the yield per hectare with the DOCG predicate is lower than with the DOC. A DOCG wine must also undergo an 'apprenticeship' of at least five years.
A DOCG wine is already subjected to a chemical and test technical analysis during the production phase. The inspectors test whether the wine contains sufficient substances such as polyphenols, sugars and acids to qualify for the DOCG classification. The other test is done after the wine has been bottled and aged. Now it is checked whether the wine has developed the characteristics for a DOCG wine. For example, it is checked whether the wine is well balanced. If the wine eventually meets all the requirements, she can put the highly sought after DOCG on the bottle label.

The main grape varieties in Umbria

It might be nice to know the main grape varieties used in Umbria for making wine. Recently, I poured a glass of red Merlot for one of our guests who was surprised that we served French wine. And his surprise was even greater when I mentioned that the Merlot grape also grows here and is used to make wine.

White grapesRed grapes
MalvasiaCabernet Sauvignon

Umbrian white wines are mainly made from the Grechetto and Malvasia grape. The red wines mainly from the Sangiovese and Sagrantino grape.

Wine of the Umbria region

Map of the production areas of DOC and DOCG wines in the Umbria region

Everyone knows the Orvieto Classico. A dry white wine from the Orvieto area, made from the procanico and indigenous grechetto grape. But be careful when you buy it! There is also a sweet version, the Abboccato, which was very popular in the Middle Ages.
What is nice to tell is that the 15th century Luca Signorelli demanded that while painting his famous frescoes in the Duomo of Orvieto, he could drink as much wine as he wanted! Haha, it's nice to have to work like this.
The most important Umbrian wine region is the area around Montefalco with its Sagrantino grape and the increasingly emerging Montefalco Rosso. Not a smaller brother of the Sagrantino, but really a different wine with its own character from the excellent Sangiovese grape. When you are in Umbria, you should definitely visit this area. You drive past one cantina to the other. Stop to visit such a winery!

Finally, Rosso di Torgiano, a red wine, is also worth mentioning. The Rubesco from the Lungarotti winery is also very affordable.
It is impossible to name all the special wines of the Umbria region in this article, but below you will at least find an overview of his best wines.

The 14 Umbrian top wines

Meanwhile, the new authoritative Italian wine guides have appeared again, such as the Gambero Rosso wine guide. An important Italian magazine in the field of food and drink. They have selected 14 top wines that deserve the title 'Tre Bicchieri' in the Umbria region. A region that, as they say, remains small, but is great in terms of beauty and good food and drink!

  • Montefalco Rosso Lampante Ris. '17 - Tenute Lunelli - Castelbuono
  • Adarmando Trebbiano Spoletino '18 - Giampaolo Tabarrini
  • Brecciaro Ciliegiolo '18 - Leonardo Bussoletti
  • Cervaro della Sala '18 - Castello della Sala
  • Fiorfiore Grechetto '18 - Roccafiore
  • Mattone Bianco Trebbiano '19 - Briziarelli
  • Montefalco Rosso Pomontino '18 - Tenuta Bellafonte
  • Orvieto Cl. Villa Barbi '19 - Decugnano dei Barbi
  • Montefalco Sagrantino Collepiano '16 - Arnaldo Caprai
  • Montefalco Sagrantino Molino dell'Attone '15 - Antonelli - San Marco
  • Orvieto Cl. Sup. Luigi e Giovanna '17 - Barberani
  • Montefalco Sagrantino Medeo '16 - Romanelli
  • Todi Grechetto Sup. Colle Nobile '18 - Tudernum
  • Torgiano Rosso Rubesco V. Monticchio Ris. '16 - Lungarotti

Come and taste the wine of the Umbria region for yourself

Come and taste the wine of the Umbria region at the Marquis of the Castle of Montegiove

The authoritative Italian magazine Gambero Rosso says so. Umbria is a small region that is great in terms of beauty and good food and drink.
Would you like to discover this small, but beautiful region in all its glory? And in the nearby castle of Montegiove de come and taste local wine?
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