Archive for November, 2010

The Wines of Montefalco

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

Montefalco is the key region for Umbria’s great wines. Their claim to fame is the Sagrantino grape; which is bold and flavorful. Sagrantino maybe my favorite Italian varietal; but you need to enjoy powerhouse reds to appreciate it.

The two best know producers of Sagrantino are Arnaldo Caprai and Paolo Bea. I had the opportunity to visit the Caprai winery a few weeks back and really enjoyed it. I was surprised how modern the winery and the tasting room were.

Caprai Tasting Room

Caprai Tasting Room

We went on a tour of the winery and then returned to the tasting room. Chaos might be the best way to describe the wine tasting; but that actually turned out to be an advantage. Rather than tiny sips of wine accompanied by a long lecture on each, we got huge pours of wine accompanied by a platter of cheese. The most impressive wine we tasted was a 2005 Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni DOCG which is 100% Sagrantino grapes. This wine is huge and needs to rest for at least 5 more years. The wine is complex with layers of flavor that are perfectly balanced. This wine is a must for anybody collecting great red wines, but know that the wine costs about $90.

I’m not patient when it comes to letting wines rest. therefore my pick is the Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso, which costs about $20. This wine is 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot. The wine tastes like a good Chianti but with a bit more structure due to the Sagrantino grape. I think this is a perfect everyday wine that will pair nicely with almost any meal.

One night we at dinner at Pane & Vino, a restaurant in Todi. The owner recommended a bottle of the 2005 Perticaia Sagrantino di Montefalco, and it was delicious. It was a big, bold red, but far more approachable than Arnaldo Caprai’s wine.

Perticaia Wines

Perticaia Wines

The Perticaia Sagrantino was a full bodied wine that exhibited great flavor, significant structure, and yet was elegant. This wine retails for just under $50, which is very reasonable for a Sagrantino.

I know you can purchase great wines from the Montefalco region in New York City, as well as online. Hopefully we can all work together to get some of the other retailers around the country to carry these great wines.

Renting in Todi

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Sunrise in Todi is gorgeous; as dawn breaks, clouds and fog envelope the valleys. The fog was quite mesmerizing, I would stare at the valley for hours watching the terracotta roofs poke their heads through the clouds. We recently rented a renovated farmhouse called Pergolaccio on the outskirts of Todi, Umbria. The terrace overlooked the rolling countryside, which provided the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening.

Dawn in Todi

Dawn in Todi

Terrace View at Sunset

Terrace View at Sunset

You may wonder why I would rent a house rather than stay in a hotel. Well, there are many advantages. If you are traveling for more than a week, it can be tiring eating three meals a day in a restaurant or a hotel. Having a refrigerator, stove, and microwave allows you to settle into an environment rather than just feeling like a tourist. Renting can have financial  advantages also; room service and restaurant costs can really add up. I have found that renting allows you to get more space when compared to a hotel, which is a real advantage for longer stays. If you rent a larger apartment or a house, you can share the space with friends, which can further reduce costs. Lastly, we were traveling with our dog Buddy, so a backyard was a real plus.

Buddy

Buddy

Renting a house or an apartment has become very easy with the internet. Sites like vrbo and homeaway have thousands of places to choose from. Many of the units for rent will have dozens of pictures so you know what to expect. Some sites also have reviews by former renters, and that can be a real plus.

The next time you travel, you may want to consider renting an apartment or a villa; it will certainly give you a different perspective.