- Montefalco, Umbria, Italy
Thanks to importer Louis/Dressner and Kevin McKenna for this profile:
We’ve known Giampiero Bea from Paolo Bea in Montefalco since the early nineties and have been fans of his wines even before that. Throughout the nineties into the aughts, we would ask “Giampiero, is there no one in Umbria working the way you do and making real wines?” The response was always a half-hearted pause in the guise of rumination and then a definitive “No.” We imagine his response remains the same today.
Over the course of time Montefalco wines have been driven in demand in good part because of Bea’s great work and as a result there’s been a blossoming of wineries and vineyards. It was the Etna before there was ETNA! The trendy region for the in-the-know wine group. Since the late nineties, it seemed the area was taking a turn for the worse - spoofy wines, made for quantity and consistency rather than terroir. But more recently, there is a swing back to less immediate, more traditional and stoic wines – the wines that actually express the work in the vineyard and the grape and soils of the region.
Angelo Fongoli is the fourth generation to be making wine at the Fongoli family estate. Since the early 2010’s, Angelo has taken the estate--that was, of course, until the eighties a poly-cultural farm using conventional systemic viticulture, then moved towards an almost monoculture farm--back to a more diverse farming culture concentrating on biodynamic techniques. The estate is now almost 40 hectares of vines, vineyards, olive trees, forest and natural truffle production. About 20 of these hectares are now planted in traditional grape varieties of the region – Trebbiano Spoletino, Grechetto, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Sagrantino – the oldest of which are more than 40 years old. The vines have been certified organic by Ecocert since 2013, and since then only the use of sulfur and limited copper on the vines, the planting of soveccia - legumes, grains and other nitrogen-rich, complex-rooted plants that open the soil and add nutrients. More recently, Angelo with his wife Letizia have begun working the farm completely in biodynamic techniques, seeking quality grapes over quantity production. They are fully satisfied with the results and now make the wines without the addition of sulfur or any other enological products.
The vinifications range from stainless steel with and without temperature control to aging in barrels or demi-muid. They also make two wines in anfora that are made in the nearby town of Deruta – Maceratum for the 100% Trebbiano Spoletino white and Fracanton for the 100% Sagrantino red made in the style of his grandfather and great-grandfather. There is also a 100% Trebbiano Spoletino metodo ancestrale frizzante refermented in bottle using reserved must. There are also still red and white wines – notably some very traditional Montefalco Rosso, Bicunsio, and a Riserva, Serpullo.
Tasting the wines, we have to say that we think Giampiero is not entirely right. There are winemakers in Umbria with the dedication and respect to their vineyards, terroir and traditional wines. The wines that Angelo and Letizia are making are among the finest from the entire region.
Click here for Louis/Dressner's website.
Click here for Fongoli's website.
Click here for an informative interview of Angelo Fongoli by Monty Waldin.