Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
My introduction to this pleasant Italian red wine came in conjunction with a guest recipe posted on Flavorful World last month. That recipe for meatballs wrapped in cabbage leaves came courtesy of Chef Vito Gnazzo, who enjoys pairing Montefalco Rosso with his savory beef-and-veal creations.
The phrase “wise beyond one’s years” sprang to mind when I first tasted this Sangiovese-Sagrantino-Merlot blend produced in Central Italy’s Umbria province, in the hilltop town of Montefalco. A fragrance redolent with red cherries and suggestions of fresh red plums gives the early impression of youthfulness and fun. Furtive notes of new leather and damp earth whisper through these youthful aromatics as well, putting a bit of silver in its stubble, and asserting its underlying sophistication.
This is a dry wine, but one with hushed intimations of sweetness, due perhaps to its rich cherry flavor backed by subtle vanilla notes. The leather carries through from the nose to the palate as well, as do lighter mineral hints of stone and earth. Its medium-high alcohol level applies gentle warmth to the palate while its marked acidity provides a pleasing freshness. The marriage of ripe red fruit to soft-edged tannins with just enough grip lend some complexity to this wine, along with a lasting finish that recalls vanilla and earth. These attributes mesh with the fullness of its body to create a satisfying drinking experience certain to grow more satisfying when paired with grilled or roasted meats like pork, beef, or lamb, with aged cheeses, or with pizza or pasta in red sauce. It isn’t difficult to see why this red is Chef Gnazzo’s frequent choice to accompany the savories he prepares.
Arnaldo Caprai achieves here a good harmony between a spirit of playfulness and the style for which Montefalco Rosso DOC is well-known. This is a great-tasting, developing wine that one can drink now with confidence of finding some depth beneath the fruit and vanilla, but it will also stand up well to aging. A few years of further maturation would allow its secondary flavors and aromas the time to blossom and reach their best and fullest representations. The bit of added complexity that resulted from such development would benefit an already appealing full-bodied wine certain to complement the right foods. It would provide an even grander stage upon which to display a fully-realized elegance of which one can already taste the beginnings.
To learn more about this producer, or to find information on vineyard tours and tastings, visit Arnaldo Caprai at http://www.arnaldocaprai.it/ or its English language website at http://english.arnaldocaprai.it/.