Between Bevagna and Montefalco, Villa Arquata and its winery. Here the Adanti family produces wines since the 70’s. It is one of Umbria’s historic wineries, intuition of the founder Domenico. To whom the Sagrantino cru is dedicated.
by Emanuela De Pinto
If you look for a bottle of ‘vintage’ Sagrantino, you can find it here. We are in the hilly area of Arquata, a stone’s throw from Bevagna and Montefalco, where in the early 70s the great winemaking history of this corner of Umbria originated. The farm was an intuition of Domenico Adanti, one of the pioneers of high quality wines in this region.
At that time, around these parts, almost everyone had a small family production. It was the “farmer’s wine” and modern technologies were far in the future. But in the mind of Domenico Adanti, the passion for wine that aspired to the French style, unique model in those years, led him to take one step after another toward the realization of a dream. Since 1972 he produces sophisticated wines, fruit of quality stylistic choices honed over time, to be pure and elegant expressions of a wine territory now known for its authentic spirit.
We are joined during our visit by Donatella Adanti, daughter of Domenico, who together with her sister Daniela and her uncle Pietro runs the family business. The road has not been easy: when Domenico bought the villa Arquata (a residence mentioned already in 1600, when it was a convent of the Celestine monks) and outlying agricultural land, there were about 20 hectares of vineyard. “There was obviously the Sagrantino, – tells Donatella – Barbera, Grechetto, Malvasia and Ciliegiolo. But my father planted Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay to give thetouch of sophistication that was missing. ” Since then, everything has changed. But perhaps nothing really has.
Everything, because Cantina Adanti was among the first to try the vinification of dry Sagrantino, when tradition dictated passito wine. Eveything, because of the choice to invest in modern technologies and specialized staff at a time when in Italy the oenologist was not a figure always present in a winery.
But, at the same time, nothing has changed: because the company size is more or less the same; because in this company (and there are very few now) they still harvest the grapes by hand, in order to make a first careful selection in the vineyard; because Domenico’s old barrel cellar still exists as a historical monument to the winery, adjacent to new modern spaces as well as the large tasting room with a fireplace, renovated and expanded over the years. Nothing has changed, because there is no use of chemical additives and the wine production has remained so faithful to the original that there are irreplaceable labels that are half a century old and remain a symbol of Adanti name of his cellar and of his historic oenologist Alvaro Palini, Domenico’s right hand at the beginning of this adventure, and of his son Daniel today.
The yearly total production is 160,000 bottles, and includes:
ARQUATA UMBRIA ROSSO IGT
This red wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Barbera, aged 30 months in oak barrels and at least one year in bottles. 1200 year bottles are produced each year. First vintage in 1981, today is one of the strengths of the winery for its excellent quality / price ratio, with loyal fans around the world. An extraordinary bouquet of berries, ink, spices and cocoa.
MONTEFALCO ROSSO DOC
The winery’s best-selling wine with a production of at least 60,000 bottles a year, which sell out quickly. Of character and good body, it has evident but soft tannins, which makes it extremely versatile in the kitchen.
MONTEFALCO ROSSO RISERVA DOC
A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot, this reserve is a real guarantee in terms of elegance, aromatic complexity and a long after taste. “It’s usually produced every two years, but since it is gone in 4 months, it will soon be inserted between the annual standard production,” explains Donatella.
MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO DOCG
The color is dark ruby red. Tannins and freshness are in perfect balance. Wood aged for at least two years and as many in the bottle, it is a wine that gives its best after some time. But do not think of an aggressive Sagrantino: “We aimed for elegance and not to force, because the market today looks for drinkability.” The tradition couples this wine with game, but is also suitable for porchetta and high-fat as we’ll as aged cheeses.
CRU DI SAGRANTINO: IL DOMENICO
This is the cru produced by the oldest vineyard, located on the Colcimino hill. The vines are between 35 and 50 years old, the soil is stony and calcareous. Sun exposure is good. All this gives the wine a range of extraordinary aromas and a great amount of minerals. A meditation wine, for ceremonies, that is consumed at best between meals. It makes fans go crazy and scoops up awards. A “granitic” wine, which is especially appreciated after having some experience tasting Sagrantino wines.
MONTEFALCO SAGRANTINO PASSITO DOCG
For Donatella this is the wine of her adolescence, a tradition which keeps alive the memory of the first happy years in the cellar with her father Domenico. The first year of production was, in fact, 1975. A triumph of flavors and notes: myrtle, black cherry, through the blackberries. Natural drying on racks, aging in oak barrels for 24 months, and another 24 in bottles. Best tasted with desserts, of course, but also with blue cheeses accompanied by chutneys and jams. And, as in Montefalco tradition, at the Easter meal with with roast lamb.
GRECHETTO COLLI MARTANI DOC
First production: 1985. “During the 90s, in the Sagrantino boom – says Donatella – many manufacturers got rid of the white grape varieties to plant the red. We did not follow that fashion blindly, but we continued to focus on Grechetto even when it was difficult to sell. That choice repays us today: we are seeing a great return of the white wines. And our Grechetto is among the most popular.”
MONTEFALCO BIANCO DOC
Blend composed of 50% Grechetto, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Trebbiano Toscano. In production since 1975, it is a wine with a pale yellow color, which has a nose of wild flowers, lavender, plum and apple. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the wine is then aged in the bottle for six months. Savor with lake fish or white meat. The Adanti Winery is a local companies that has deep respect for its own history. Totally recognizable, without fear of innovating, with a large capacity to host visitors. The winery is open from Monday to Saturday, by appointment. Donatella and her staff will host you in a warm tasting room, surrounded by bottles and a plethora of awards on the walls.
Just to name some of the most recent: the gold medal at the International Wine Guide Awards 2016 Sagrantino 2009, 4 stars in Good Wines of Italy 2017 for the Sagrantino 2010, a mention of excellent wines in Italy L’Espresso 2015 assigned to the Domenico 2008. But perhaps the most important prize in all these years is the bronze medal in Bordeaux at the France Expo 1991 with the red of Arquata 1987.