From the ancient Romans to the Cisternese monks, wine has been produced in Umbria for centuries.
The best and most popular white wines in Umbria came from the Orvieto, which were once shipped in large quantities to the Vatican in Rome. But it was not until after the Second World War that truly excellent wines began to emerge from Umbria.
Today, it is the Umbrian reds—such as Sagrantino di Montefalco and Torgiano Rosso Riserva—that get most of the publicity and international attention. (These are the only two Umbrian wines that have been granted the coveted D.O.C.G. status.)
Umbria also boasts 11 D.O.C. wines—the second highest classification. Below are some of Umbria’s most noteworthy wines:
Sagrantino di Montefalco D.O.C.G
Made with 100 percent Sagrantino, a native Umbrian grape, this wine is considered one of Italy’s finest reds. With a ruby-red colour that turns brick-orange with age, it is grown near Montefalco and Bevagna. This wine should be aged 10-15 years, after which it fully expresses its bouquet of plums, juniper, violet, vanilla, spices and leather. Producers to look out for: Antonelli San Marco, Adanti, Milziade Antano Fattoria Colleallodole, Arnaldo Caprai (pictured in the image above).
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Torgiano Rosso Riserva D.O.C.G
This wine is usually made with 70 percent Sangiovese and 30 percent Canaiolo grapes. It is grown in the hills around Torgiano. Producers continue to follow traditional wine-making methods, first aging the wine in oak barrels for a few months, followed by several years in the bottle. These wines are typically mahogany in colour, with a bouquet of preserves, sweet spices, tobacco and boxwood. A dry, well-structured wine. Producer to look out for: Lungarotti.
Orvieto comprises more than two-thirds of the wines made in Umbria. It is a pale, dry white wine, made with about 40 percent Grechetto grapes (native), and various quantities of Verdello grapes and Canaiolo Bianco grapes. These wines are typically drunk young. Some producers are also making sweet wine. Producers to look out for: Bigi, Palazzone, Barbarani, and Custodi’s sweet wine.
Montefalco Rosso D.O.C
These wines are considered very approachable. They are made with 60-70 percent Sangiovese grapes, 10-15 percent Sagrantino grapes and a smattering of Cabernet and Merlot grapes. Typically ruby-red in colour, this wine smells of berry jams, aromatic herbs and wood smoke. Producers to look out for: Adanti, Colpetrone, Sciacciadiavoli, Fratelli Pardi.
A lesser known but favourite producer located in the Sagrantino di Montefalco D.O.C.G and Rossi di Montefalco sections, Romanelli is more of a boutique wine compared to the aforementioned Arnaldo Caprai, but definitely an excellent option.