Chapter 17 – Umbria and Montefalco
Umbria region finds itself in the center of Italy, a region of lush rolling hills, hilltop villages and iconic, historic towns, like Orvieto with its unique Cathedral and Assisi.
Umbria is at the very heart of the Italian Peninsula and has Tuscany, Marche and Lazio at its border. A peculiarity of Umbria is that it is the only Italian region without a coastline or an international border.
The climate of Umbria is similar to that of Tuscany. It experiences cold, rainy winters and dry summers with abundant sunshine to ripen wine grapes. The exception to this is the area west of Perugia. Here temperatures are moderated by the waters of Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake of Italy.
Umbria, like Marche and Lazio, is best known for its white wine production. Trebbiano, known also as Procanico, and Grechetto are the most important and diffuse grape variety. Procanico is considered a “superior” clone of Trebbiano, with smaller bunches and produces some of the finest wines. The main and the largest appellation (about 10% of the total production) of the region is the Orvieto DOC, based on Trebbiano and production goes from dry to Demi-sweet to sweet wines.
Although it is more famous for the quality of its white wines, Umbria DOCG are about reds. Sangiovese is also here (like in many areas of central Italy) the most planted grape variety at all and it is the primary grape in the second DOCG of the region: Torgiano Rosso Riserva.
While the most important grape in terms of typicity is the native Sagrantino which takes the predominance of the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG.
The annual total output is less than one third of that of Tuscany. This makes Umbria 14th or 15th of the 20 wine producing regions by annual volume. (data from Wine Searcher).
The quality and prominence of the region’s wines are on the rise, thanks especially to some responsible producers which are now rediscovering the true essence of Umbria’s wines. While in the past years, especially due to the predominance of the use of external consultant by bigger producers, Umbria was losing its typicality, with massive use of international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, sometimes with procedures that were implementing the use of new barriques, even for the fermentation, which as a result used to gave over-oaked tasting wines.
This new investment has markedly improved wine based on Sangiovese.
These new wines do attract considerable interest at home and internationally. This may in part be due to favorable prices in relation to Tuscan counterparts.
Today I have decided to present you one of these interesting whites, the DOC Trebbiano Spoletino, made in the eponymous area of Spoleto. The wines are made with 100% Trebbiano, which in this area finds the perfect conditions to express with a wonderful floral bouquet and an extremely juicy mouth.
Especially the wine that I have decided to pair with Carlotta’s recipe, from Raìna winery.
Raìna is a small winery, located in Montefalco and owned by Francesco Mariano. Francesco is a chef and decided in 2002 to completely change his life and get into the game of making wine. Since the beginning he always knew the philosophy and the kind of work he wanted to implement in his winery.
In the vineyard, biodynamic agriculture has been practiced since 2012 and they are included in a project entirely devoted to maintaining the richness of the soils. No chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides are used, and sulfur, copper, infusions and decoctions of plants are used for the treatments. Each stage of processing, from pruning to harvest, is carried out manually.
No chemical products are used in the cellar except for a moderate use of sulphites, and, at the end of the winemaking and aging process, the red wines are never filtered, while the vintage whites may be subject to a slight roughing.
A young producer with very clear ideas, who has well in mind where to go in the future, with wines that beautifully interpret the classic varieties of the Montefalco terroir.
Raina enjoys about ten hectares of vineyards, scattered around the town of Montefalco, one of the most voted wine-growing areas in all of Umbria.
The Trebbiano Spoletino Raìna is a white that surprises for the vibrancy, with a very tense taste, the richness and aromatic persistence of its finish. The grapes are fermented in contact with the skins for 4 days and after the fermentation the wine ages for 6 months in concrete vats. The result is a white with great texture, which confirms the absolute value of this Umbrian grape, that in the Montefalco area has found suitable soils and a cool climate to express itself at its best. In the glass it has a golden yellow color with bright reflections. The nose opens with elegant floral notes, which leave room for more mature aromas of yellow fruit, exotic fruit, even dried fruit, honey and nuances of medicinal herbs. The mouth has a great freshness, with savory and mineral sensations, which accompany a finish of beautiful persistence.
Carlotta’s food story – Crescia di Pasqua
Umbria’s traditional regional cuisine is based around “earth” ingredients (rather than sea) with a significant presence of cured meats, especially from the town of Norcia, which are known as “norcineria” products, produced from pork. Another famous gastronomic product from Norcia you might have heard about is its black truffle. Other typical regional products include various cheese, delicious olive oil and a selection of breads, from unsalted “pane sciapo” to various types of focaccia: la ciaccia di Città di Castello, crescia and torta di testo. And just because Italians love keeping things simple, “crescia” is usually used to refer to a type of focaccia/piadina from Umbria and The Marche, however, “crescia di Pasqua” (which literally translated is crescia from Easter) is a completely different food. Whereas one is flat the other is leavened and almost 10 centimeters tall. One is consumed by adding cured meats and cheeses in it, the other as a bread – with meats and cheeses (but not within). I hope you can keep up, although I won’t blame you if you’re struggling! If I had the chance of choosing which of the two products should keep the name “crescia”, I would choose the Easter one, simply because the name itself derives from crescere, the act of growing and leavening – which the piadina version doesn’t do as much!
Normal crescia – which resembles a piadina – is simply made with water, flour, salt and sometimes olive oil. Easter crescia on the other hand is made with yeast, eggs and grated cheese, which together with flour, olive oil, salt and pepper form the dough.
I’ve decided to share with you my recipe of the crescia di Pasqua for this week’s regional wine and food regional tour for a variety of reasons: firstly, it’s delicious, secondly, Easter is just around the corner so why not impress your guests with this unique dish and thirdly, paris wonderfully with Manu’s chosen Umbrian wine, which I’ll let here speak about now.
Click the link to check the full recipe @lapanzapiena blog !