Miralduolo, in the heart of the DOCG Torgiano Rosso Riserva. On the trail of a family of visionaries who founded its business history in natural elements. Here wines of style are born, between tradition and research.
By Emanuela De Pinto
From this hill, Miralduolo, the view is a tapestry of sky embracing Perugia and Torgiano from one corner to an other. In the middle are rows of vineyards that bear the fruit of Sangiovese, Grechetto, Canajolo. Here, one of the first five Italian appellations was created and the first in Umbria: 1968 for DOC Torgiano, 1990 for the DOCG Torgiano Rosso Riserva. Yet, when the territory enjoys so much history and tradition, businesses tend to forget about innovation, risking that other great labels overshadow their value. However, if the power of an idea is applied to a place with a dormant myth, with a futuristic vision that can invent a new era, that same earth rejuvenates itself, renewing its lifeblood and vigor. And it knows how to excite again. This is the history of the Terre Margaritelli Winery.
The Umbrian family, known for the high quality wood industry, faces an important oenological challenge today. It was Fernando Margaritelli, in 1948, who planted the seed of that idea, which was subsequently developed by his grandchildren: a piece of fertile soil in which to cultivate traditional vineyards and a tractor, as he did as a boy. A wine was produced to drink together as a family and in the company of friends. Meanwhile, his three children inherited the railway crossing company and opened a sawmill in Burgundy, still active today, adopting a growing ‘know-how’ in the wood world. It is the beginning of the Listone Giordano brand of parquet floors. A worldwide success that begins in Miralduolo di Torgiano. The link with the territory was so strong that, in 2000, Giuseppe Margaritelli, in honor of his father’s memory, decided to buy another farm and thus bring the entire property up to 60 hectares, of which 52 are vineyard. From that moment on, the idea of producing high quality wines becomes a happy obsession. The Terre Margaritelli project, a winery with its own production, was started in 2006. Organic-certified since its inception.
The entrepreneurship that characterizes this family has solid foundations: in soil, in wood. Every project must be created from contact with nature. Sustainable at the economic level to produce a little more every year without investing more than necessary, to function while respecting the environment at the agronomic level, to deliver higher quality to tomorrow’s wine growers, and at the social level to bring the winery back to being a place of conviviality by creating a series of events, such as the Pinocchio Harvest in the Open Wineries each year in September. Children walk freely around the vineyard, tasting the grapes, picking them, and squishing them with their feet. They learn to ‘make wine’ while having fun.
Federico Bibi, a trusted man who handles many aspects of the winery, from welcoming visitors to sales, from marketing to events, explains: “We are working to put the winery in a corner of their conscience and memory. It would be enough for one of them to be passionate about this world to secure a future for our land. They must be able to have physical contact with nature. They are the real technological, virtual generation. We, therefore, have the moral duty not to forget the beauty of what is real.”
Today, Dario Margaritelli, in particular, along with Federico, follows and sees the family winery’s initial project evolve into an extraordinary experimentation. There are many surprises that come along with this reality. From the family size and the warmth to the beauty of the vineyards: a strip of land exposed to the south-east with a slope that resembles a watercolor painting, a hill just windy enough to hear the continuous rustling of the leaves that whispers in the visitor’s ear, a generous sun.
9 wines made from 15 varieties of grapes are produced in the vineyard. About 120,000 bottles per year. The peculiarity lies in the mastery with which non-native wine varietals blend with the historic, local ones, elevating its properties. Wines are produced that surprise the palette for their drinkability, flavor, class and balance. The flagship label is the Freccia degli Scacchi, named after the Captain of the Generals of the Battle of Miralduolo. A Red Torgiano Reserve DOCG, pure Sangiovese, which requires 2 years in barriques and 2 years in the bottle. “We have worked to express all the character of the Sangiovese – explains Federico Bibi – from the sharp tannin to the cherry fruitiness, to the floral rose notes.” Refined, powerful. Wood reduces alcoholicity and gives it longevity without distorting it.
And when it comes to wood, the Margaritelli family knows what to choose: only French oak from the Bertrange Forest in Burgundy. The choice is the result of a unique experimentation in collaboration with the National Institute of Vineyard and Wine, the French Forestry Institute and the Tonnage Trade Union, with the aim of verifying how much and how a type of wood, rather than another, affects wine. Betrange oak turned out to be the most suitable: delicate and never covering the fruit.
Among the Umbrian vine varietals there is Grechetto. Terre Margaritelli interprets it with a label that enhances the marriage between fruit and wood. The Greco di Renabianca (another name of a soldier of fortune, as well as the ditch passing by Grechetto vineyard) is a white Umbria IGT that starts from a barrique fermentation and then passes through a light bottle aging. Scaling vine with its remarkable almond note. Here, wood gives broader notes of vanilla, eucalyptus and anise.
The third of the aging wines is the Miràntico, an ancient name for the town Miralduolo. In this Torgiano Rosso DOC the masterful use of the international grape variety serving the territory becomes emblematic. The angularity and the sharp tannins of the Sangiovese are combined with high alcohol content and the bitter note of the Canajolo, blending together with the softness of the Malbec, with the notes of melted butter and caramel. Six months of barrique make the blend homogeneous, creating a perfect balance of wine.
The Rosé of Torgiano DOC is the pink adventure of the Terre Margaritelli winery, where the name Venturosa comes from. Pure Sangiovese, harvested in advance. White wine according to the pressurized technique, the only passage with the skins is in the press. Among the whites deserves a taste, and even more than one, the Costellato (from the brilliant reflections that recall the brightness of the starry sky), White of Torgiano DOC: Trebbiano, Fiano, Viogner and Chardonnay. The freshness of the first vine varietal meets the opulence of others, without ever being overwhelming. Malot is the only wine produced without native vine varieties. The typical ‘Bordolese Cut’ given by Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 8-month ageing process in the barrique gives it an intense character, like the ancient leader from whom it takes the name. Finally, there are the two IGT-based wines: Roccascossa, Rosso based on Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc, and Pietramala, a blend of Trebbiano and Pecorino, both authentic witnesses to the authenticity and sincerity of these lands.
Terre Margaritelli is also a laboratory where knowledge of the vines, creative flair and continuous research of new sensations are the basis of the Label Lab project. Every year, only one vine is worked with a set rules: that it is a fresh, non-barricaded, young wine. For example, 2016 was the year of Canajolo. A slightly delayed vintage and blocked fermentation. The result was a sweet wine, with vivid aromas of rose and violet, typical of the vine. Starting next year, this pure Canajolo will be in regular production with the name Simon De Brion, homage to Pope Martin IV, who died and was buried in Perugia in 1285. Pontiff, known for his sins of throat based on eel and Canajolo, so much so as to be sent by Dante Alighieri to the circle of the greedy. Today, Terre Margaritelli exports 50% of its wines abroad, especially to the USA, Japan and France, where the Freccia degli Scacchi has just entered the wine list of the award-winning restaurant Mirazur, near Nice. However, the invitation is for you to go personally to the winery. To welcome you (open from Monday to Saturday, and by appointment small private events with the possibility of organizing catering) there will be people before entrepreneurs, a vineyard before the bottle, a land full of history and charm before a brand.