On the Road with the Grape Guy

Visit to Valdangius (Umbria, Italy)

10 Dec 2020

(February 23, 2020) … Final stop of the day is this young winery established in 2010. They started with a production of 5,000 bottles and today make between 20 to 25,000. The farm's make-up is six hectares of vineyard (average age of about 20 years), 3,000 olive trees and some areas for livestock ... their Sagrantino is 35 to 40 years old while the Trebbiano Spoletino is about 15 years old.

Today's tasting was broken down into two flights, starting with 4 years of Trebbiano followed by 4 years of Sagrantino.

The Wines ...

Let's start here – Valdangius uses an element of oak and skin contact on their "Campo de Pico" (Trebbiano Spoletino) – which, in my opinion, camouflages that great acid and minerality that I have found in other versions of the wine that do not go down the oak and skin contact road ... It also chokes off that lovely tropical fruit; turning a beautiful summer sipper into a bitter wine that lacks freshness on the finish.

“Campo de Pico” – Trebbiano Spoletino – Vino Bianco

2015 - this one comes off fairly fresh, but with a pseudo-butterscotch note and a touch of vanilla, citrus and toasted apricot; drinkable, but surely not what I was expecting.

2016 - while acidity is the hallmark of Spoletino this one finds the oak taking over from the fruit … notes of vanilla coat apricot and lemon zest.

2017 - there are notes of vanilla and toast with a slight lemony nuance.

2018 - the nose is fruity with peach, apricot, apple and lemon, but there is a bitter finish that seems to be oak-derived.

Final Take Away:  while the 2015 seems like it was going in the right direction to show off the fruit, acidity and freshness of this grape – the subsequent wines show that the course Valdangius is taking hides what makes this grape so special.

"Fortunato" is the name of the Valdangius Sagrantino, and here we tried the past four vintages – in its making it follows the rules of making Sagrantino. The grapes are grown at 380m above sea level, are hand-harvested and spend 30 days macerating using only wild yeast fermentation. The wine then ages 12 months in oak then another 18 in “steel barrels” – after bottling the “finished wine” rests 6 months before release:

“Forunato” – Sagrantino Montefalco DOCG – Vino Rosso Secco

2012 - there's a bit of a funky note on the finish which detracts a little from the overall enjoyment of the wine, but the mid-palate is full of blueberry, leather, mocha and mineral with some salty undertone.

2013 - nice dark fruit and subtle smoke with blue and blackberry fruit (most notably skins) the tannins are definitely softening, but still grippy – the finish on this wine is getting there ... Another year or two and this will be a delight.

2014 - this is a disjointed wine from a vintage that has been described as "difficult"; thin layer of fruit with a weird middle that just doesn't seem to come together ... would need to revisit this wine in years to come to see if it does lose its disjointedness and comes together, but at the moment ... it does not.

2015 – this one is a real beauty built to age ... rich, ripe and layered fruit that comes across thick in the mouth, not just texturally but there is an actual chew to this wine. Grippy tannins with mocha and black cherry fruit. This is one to hold 10 to 20 years or even more.

Final Take Away:  The Valdangius Sagrantinos are hit and miss, but for a young winery you would expect that – they are trying to get their feet and find their style; and with the 2015 they might just have found a winning combination, here’s hoping the 2016 and beyond can harness that magic.


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