From the Sagrantino which has mesmerized USA to the ‘Super Umbrian’ Macchieto and the revelation of whites such as the ‘Aragon’ and the Trebbiano Spoletino. A visit to the Bartoloni family business
by Emanuela De Pinto
Grape-harvest time. Good wine is synonymous with Italy. There is a place in Umbria unequalled for its green hills and valleys. It's Montefalco, the kingdom of the Sagrantino wine. Paolo Bartoloni, 32, is a young winegrower with a degree in agriculture who has followed in the footsteps of his grandfather. Le Cimate Winery was founded on September 2, 2011 after nine months of work and an investment of 4 million euros.
The results are seven impeccable wines: the classic Sagrantino DOCG, Montefalco Red DOC (obtained from Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot and Sagrantino grapes), the “Macchieto” IGT (which Paolo calls “Super Umbrian” because it’s made from half-Sagrantino half-Cabernet Sauvignon),and the Sagrantino Rosé “Saudade” which has already been nominated one of Italy’s ten best wines at the national wine competition. Then there are the whites, the company's pride and joy. The ‘Aragon’, an Umbrian white IGT, obtained from Vermentino and Grechetto grapes, won over the palates of conoisseurs in no time and spurred sales, increasing production to about 80,000 bottles a year.
Among the whites, the latest creation is the Trebbiano Spoletino IGT. Lovers of Italian wine know what we’re talking about. Intense aromas of peach and apricot. The ‘Meliade’ Sagrantino Passito IGT is worth praising as well. About 3-4000 bottles of it a year are produced. The drying room is windowless, but dry air is pumped in which speeds up the drying process and sanitizes the grapes. In this way, they aren’t subject to botrytis (a grey mold which affects wine grapes.)
But let's take a step back. This winery's history begins with Paolo's grandfather, Paolo Bartoloni, who in 1947 was the owner of 174 hectares of land in Umbria, of which 11 were planted with vineyards near the town of Spoleto. The holding where Le Cimate now stands was, however, the property of the bishop's curia. In 1992, Mr. Bartoloni decided to purchase it. "It was the priest who gave the farmhouse its name," says the younger Bartoloni, "because he used to say that from up there you could see everything." In 2009, the grandfather passed on the business to his grandchildren Paolo and Francesca.
Today the winery has the capacity to stock 2700 hectoliters and has an estimated yearly production of around 120.000 bottles. It’s equipped with a manual system for selecting the grapes as well as a heating and cooling system for the tanks and workrooms, operable with a touch screen panel.
The barrel cellar is evocative. There are 2500-liter oak barrels where the Montefalco Red and the Macchieto are refined (for 12 and 24 months, respectively) with small glass ampoules overhead to check the level of the wine, as well as the French barriques where the Sagrantino is refined (for 36 months and another 12 in bottles.) “During the ageing process the wood lends the wine the scents of chocolate, vanilla or coffee", Paolo explains. The winery is also energetically self-sufficient thanks to photovoltaic panels on the roof. 2014 has been a year of exports: the United States, Denmark, China. The future is knocking for Paolo and the new generation of the Bartolini family. A visit to this marvel of agricultral engineering is a fascinating experience, to say the least.