Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Umbrian spin on Sangiovese

Tonight I took a break from tasting new wines. It had been a long day and I needed to stack the deck. I needed a wine that would not let me down, a wine that I had been saving for a day like today. Tonight, I opened a bottle of Paolo Bea.

The last time I talk about Paolo Bea was in my piece “Paolo Bea: A legacy in the making”. My opinions have not changed. These are amazing wines that, I believe, will one day stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the biggest names in Italy. Tonight's bottle was the 2003 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Vigna Pipparello, from the region of Umbria. It's a blend made primarily from Sangiovese (60%) with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (25%) and Sagrantino (15%).  If you love Brunello or top-shelf Chianti Classico, then this is a bottle that you must seek out.

The 2003 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Vigna Pipparello came across as slightly more mature than expected, yet stunning none-the-less and with many years of fine drinking ahead of it. Coming from a perfectly stored bottle and tasted over the course of a number of hours. It was wonderfully soft and sweet on the palate with a haunting bouquet that pulled me in. Paolo Bea continues to impress me and it’s a wonder that this winery isn’t on the A-lists of more Italian wine lovers.

Keep an eye out for a recipe for
Pizzoccheri Valtellinesi on Whats Cookin'
It was enjoyed with a plate of Pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, which is a recipe I’ve been trying to master for a few weeks now. It’s seriously stick-to-your-ribs, home-style, Northern Italian cooking with fresh buckwheat pasta, cabbage, potatoes and onions, in a Fontina and sage butter sauce. Sounds easy right? Well, I’ve been having trouble getting right until—today. It was awesome and the Paolo Bea made it really shine.

2003 Paolo Bea Montefalco Rosso Riserva Vigna Pipparello - The nose showed intense black cherry, cinnamon stick, and chalky minerals with notes of mushroom and forest floor. On the palate, sweet ripe cherry enveloped the senses, like a sweet and savory sauce with beefy notes and clove spice, adding complexities. With each sip, I was tempted to take another. It was soft as silk yet weightless on the palate with high-toned red fruit, hints of mint and herbal tea on the finish. (94 points) Find it on Wine-Searcher!

As much as I love Wine-searcher, sometimes an individual retailer deserves the spotlight: Vinopolis Wine Shop in Portland Oregon has a great selection of Paolo Bea wines. They also carry an excellent selection of wines from around the world, along with some of the most highly sought after Italian wines you could hope to find. If you're interested in exploring the the wines of Paolo Bea, this is a great place to start.


  1. Hi Eric.

    It sounds like an very interesting wine i for sure would love to try, but only found one place in Europe to buy it,and for mee it seems expensive for 45€ which is around 60 US Dollars


  2. That sounds about right. It's not a cheap wine, but I don't feel bad having spent the money on it either. It's good to know that a $60 wine can be as good as you hope it to be. Also, I'd rather drink this than a slew of $100 Brunello Riservas.