Paolo Bea 2015 'Vigneto Pagliaro' Sagrantino Secco di Montefalco, Umbria, Italy - DECANTsf

Paolo Bea 2015 'Vigneto Pagliaro' Sagrantino Secco di Montefalco, Umbria, Italy

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Paolo Bea 2015 'Vigneto Pagliaro' Sagrantino Secco di Montefalco, Umbria, Italy

The fabled local grape of Montefalco is the Sagrantino and the Pagliaro vineyard, situated at 1300 feet in altitude, is dedicated in large part to this grape variety. Bea produces perhaps his most renowned wine from pure Sagrantino grown on the prized hilltop site of Pagliaro, situated at 1300 feet above sea level in Montefalco proper. The only wines that approach Bea’s in that regard are perhaps the most unsculpted Syrah-based wines of the Northern Rhône, but even those feel more constrained compared to top vintages of Pagliaro. Similarly large in scale to the Rosso de Veo, this actually presents with greater precision and nuance, its overall attack more subtle but ultimately no less impactful—direct evidence of a great terroir translated with consummate skill.

  • Winemaker: Paolo Bea
  • Farming: Organic
  • Variety: Sagrantino 100%
  • Terroir: From the the Pagliaro vineyard, which faces south and southwest at 1,300 feet above sea level. Limestone-clay and gravel soils with 20+ year old cordon-trained vines.
  • Vinification: Hand harvested, after crushing and destemming, wine ferments spontaneously in stainless steel tanks. Cuvaision lasts 40-50 days. Pressed in vertical basket presss, with 12 months on less. ML is spontaneous.
  • Aging:  Up to 24 months in stainless steel tanks followed by 24 months in large, Slavonian oak botti. Unfined, unfiltered, no added sulfur with 50-75 mg/l total sulfur.

From our 2021 Q2 Serious Inquiries bottle club notes:

Paolo Bea |  ‘Vigneto Pagliaro’ Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco  | Umbria, France | 2015

Located in Central Italy’s landlocked Umbria region, Paolo Bea is one of the original Italian masters of natural winemaking. Bea is certainly the King of Sagrantino, the famous,  notoriously tannic grape from the medieval village of Montefalco. Sagrantino gives off an inky, dense color and brooding, brambly fruit notes flecked with warm earthy spices, like sandalwood, cinnamon and leather. But that’s at it’s best. Sadly, much of the Sagrantino that is produced in Umbria is consumed far too early in its life, but the wines of Paolo Bea are so rare and coveted that you should be in no rush to guzzle them down. In fact, these wines are almost punishingly unapproachable in their youth. 

The Bea family has been farming in Umbria since the 1500s. Today, Paolo oversees his 15 hectare farm (only 5 hectares are planted to grape vines) while his sons  Guiseppe and Giampero run the day-to-day operations. Giampero oversees the winemaking, and is careful to stick to the standards his father set so many decades ago: minimal intervention in the vineyards, little to no mechanical use in the cellars, native yeasts, natural fermentations, and bottling wines unfiltered & unfined and only when ready. In the case of the Vigneto Pagliaro, which comes from Bea’s top hillside vineyard in Montefalco, the wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel for about 12 months before being held in large Slavonian botti (cask) for 36 months. 

This wine should be held for at least 10 years, but ideally longer if you can stand it (25+ years hits the sweet spot). As these wines age, they take on a balsamic, fig-like note, that compounds with herbs from the Italian brush— Mediterranean thyme, tomato leaf, marjoram. As the tannins soften, they become the perfect backdrop for a Tuscan steak, wild boar ragu or gamey red meats. And if nothing else, keep the label in great condition and sell the bottle down the line-- the Bea wines only ever go up, up, up in value!

—Simi Grewal


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