We are introduced to Marco Caprai, son of the owner with perhaps the most recognisable wine name in Umbria – Arnaldo Caprai.
This is the family that really brought the local red grape, Sagrantino, into the modern world applying up-to-date wine making techniques and innovation that has dragged the Montefalco region right to the forefront of Italian wine. It is a tiny region, the Lungarotti family alone produce more wine than the all of the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOC producers together.
The grape, distinctive but still uniquely Italian, makes powerful, long lived wines (the Arnaldo Caprai flagship 25 Anni they recommend keeping for 15-20 years) that are burly, dense and expansive. There is a sweetness of fruit that is quite beguiling but with those tannins and mouth-feel food really is required for maximum enjoyment. The Arnaldo-Caprai 25 Anni 2007 [ Adegga / Snooth] (first made in 1993 for the wineries 25th anniversary) is a big, dense wine; with power, sensual tannins and a “swelling flow of unrelieved pleasure” as the company brochure puts it!
While Arnaldo Caprai are rightly proud of their 100% Sagrantino bottlings (the Collepiano 2007, [Adegga / Snooth] pictured, is also 100% Sagrantino) this majestic grape works well in blends. Over our protracted, highly enjoyable if a little endulgent lunch a Montefalco Rosso 2009 [Adegga / Snooth] was also served; while mostly Sangiovese (70%) an equal splash of Merlot and Sagrantino is also added making the wine more approachable, with vivid berries and a spice edge.
Also rather captivating was a white from the Grechetto grape, the Arnaldo Caprai Grecante 2011, [Adegga / Snooth] makes for a good aperitif and accompanied a platter of antipasto (Casciotta cheese, local prosciutto and a rustic flat bread) superbly. Lemony, minerality with a crisp nutty finish.
If you have scrolled through the photo gallery you might have noted a Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco, 2007 [Adegga / Snooth]. Passito is the Italian term for when picked grapes are dried in rooms (traditionally on straw mats) to a raisin like state before being made into wine. (As Mary explains on her Vindulge blog, Sagrantino is seen even locally as a sweet wine) The wines are sweet and a delightful finishing swirl to a meal. Was that a hint of liquorice on the finish? Amongst the jam and blackberry jam flavours it added a complex twist to a delightful wine. A wine that fortified us enough to venture back out into that Umbrian winter sun…
London’s Vini Italiani wine shop lists two Arnaldo-Caprai wines – the Montefalco Rosso 2007 is listed at £16 and the Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 anni, 2003, is £53…