Bellafonte Collenottolo Montefalco Sagrantino 2011
Critical AcclaimAll Vintages
Peter Heilbron, a Milanese-born executive from the food and beverage sector, fell in love with Umbria’s calm setting while he was working for Nestlé. After a few years as CEO of Martini & Rossi, then Heineken Italy, Peter decided to act on his passion for the unique terroir of Montefalco and Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG, a powerful new star in Italian wine. For Peter, Bellafonte is a dream come true; he had always had the desire to interpret a territory and wine with ancient roots in a new way. He purchased 74 acres (30 hectares) close to Bevagna, in one of the region’s most untouched, pristine landscapes. The estate was built in order to have complete energy balance and minimal environmental impact, with photovoltaic panels and a biomass heater which also utilizes the crop residues. The entire property aims to blend into the landscape, with an underground winery and cellars and minimal impact on the environment.: no damage, no waste; even the residues of pruning are employed to produce energy. The winery itself rests on a stainless steel and stone structure in direct contact with the rocky soil, and enjoys ideal ventilation thanks to underground conduits that circulate outside air and ensure naturally cool temperatures. Hot air exits the winery through two massive chimneys. In Peter’s words “We wish to create a great wine, which respects both nature and tradition, by interpreting the natural exuberance of Sagrantino grapes in an elegant and refined way.”
Centered upon the lush Apennine Range in the center if the Italian peninsula, Umbria is one of the few completely landlocked regions in Italy. It’s star red grape variety, Sagrantino, finds its mecca around the striking, hilltop village of Montefalco. The resulting wine, Sagrantino di Montefalco, is an age-worthy, brawny, brambly red, bursting with jammy, blackberry fruit and earthy, pine forest aromas. By law this classified wine has to be aged over three years before it can be released from the winery and Sagrantino often needs a good 5-10 more years in bottle before it reaches its peak. Incidentally these wines often fall under the radar in the scene of high-end, age-begging, Italian reds, giving them an almost cult-classic appeal. They are undoubtedly worth the wait!
Rosso di Montefalco, on the other had, is composed mainly of Sangiovese and is a more fruit-driven, quaffable wine to enjoy while waiting for the Sagrantinos to mellow out.
Among its green mountains, perched upon a high cliff in the province of Terni, sits the town of Orvieto. Orvieto, the wine, is a blend of at least 60% Trebbiano in combination with Grechetto, with the possible addition of other local white varieties. Orvieto is the center of Umbria’s white wine production—and anchor of the region’s entire wine scene—producing over two thirds of Umbria’s wine. A great Orvieto will have clean aromas and flavors of green apple, melon and citrus, and have a crisp, mineral-dominant finish.
Known for dark and dense red wines, Sagrantino is a grape unique to Umbria. The best examples come from the clay, sand and limestone soils around the village of Montefalco. Since Sagrantino grapes have a high level of tannins, law requires Sagrantino di Montefalco age at least 30 months before release to market. Sagrantino often benefits from further aging—though look to those labeled Rosso di Montefalco for early drinking Sagrantino-Sangiovese blends. Somm Secret—Sagrantino contains some of the highest polyphenol (antioxidant) levels compared to other red wine grapes.