Thursday, October 09, 2008

October in Umbria

In the eastern shadows of the better-known region of Tuscany there is a land of slanting sunlight, protected by hills and mountains, called Umbria. (photo of the Chiesa di Sant'Angelo by seier+seier+seier)

There you will find Assisi, where the troubadour-warrior-theologian St. Francis had his miraculous vision which led him to found the Franciscan order. Here too is Perugia, home to the Renaissance artist Perugino who somehow managed to capture the soft light of the region in every canvas he ever painted. And of course there's the fortress-city of Orvieto, where Pope Clement VII tried to escape the clutches of Charles V after Rome was sacked in 1527.

You will also find wonderful wine. (photo of a vineyard in Montone by rdesai) This month, I'll be exploring the wine of the region, and finding out more about how the magic of Umbria works its way into the soil and the grapes to produce great bottlings made with both native and international grapes. Umbria has some big producers (most notably Falesco, who has a base of operations here as well as in Lazio), but the tradition of small, family-owned wineries and vineyards has also been preserved. Today, many of these smaller wineries specialize in cultivating the region's traditional grapes like Grechetto, Sagrantino, and Canaiolo Bianco.

Just as the region is known for its love of traditional wines, Umbria is also known for its traditional approch to food. It's one of the few regions of Italy that is completely landlocked, which means that the food of the region runs heavily towards meat, cheeses, and fresh-water fish such as trout. A special breed of cattle, Chianina, is raised outside Perugia which makes beef from this area out of this world in terms of flavor and texture. Wild boar sausage is a specialtyof Umbria, too, and the area abounds in fresh game, truffles, and a distinctively-flavored prosciutto. All of this hearty, flavorful food goes beautifully with the region's simple, pure wines. (photo of an Umbrian salumeria by rdesai)

Can you tell I love Umbria? I do. It's one of the most beautiful places on earth in my opinion.

I'm looking forward to highlighting some of their excellent, affordable wines this month. I've got a bottle from Falesco, something from Assisi, and a traditional white, too. Do you have any recommendations for can't-miss wines from Umbria? If so, leave them in the comments below. And if you can find a wine from Umbria, why not join in and let us know how you liked it? (photo Perugia: arca tra le ombre by gaspa)

3 comments:

Kathy said...

The "not-to-be-missed" wine experience in Umbria is the Enoteca Properzio in Spello...owned by a fifth generation Spello resident named Roberto Angelini..he knows everyone and everything about Umbrian wines...try the degustazione (tasting) menu...a visit to this enoteca was a highlight of my trip to Italy...

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Lorenzo said...

beautiful stuff! especially the photos. can't wait to see which wines will be featured.