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Roccafiore Umbria, Italy’s best grechetto

“Just don’t make the same wines as your grandfather did, my friends said when I told them I would start making my own wines,” says Luca Baccarelli of the Roccafiore winery in Umbria, laughing.

His grandfather’s wines were rustic, blunt and heavy. Just the opposite of what Luca makes today.

“In Umbria, we have always been isolated and that also reflects our character and our wines. We are rustic, simple, straightforward and reliable people,” says Luca.

Umbria, and not least the area around Todi where Roccafiore is located, is incredibly beautiful. It looks like a pristine Tuscany with medieval picturesque villages, a rolling landscape of vineyards and olive groves that take turns to showcase its beauty.

Luca Baccarelli, winemaker at Roccafiore in Umbria

Luca Baccarelli, winemaker at Roccafiore in Umbria, copyright the winery

The grechetto grape

But that very characteristic — “rustic and simple” — is something Luca wanted to change. His white wine Fiorfiore, made from hundred per cent grechetto di todi, is on the contrary elegant and complex.

“The difficult thing about the grechetto grape is that it easily accumulates sugar, loses acidity and gets a too thick a skin, and gives rustic tannins to the wine,” Luca says.

To remedy this, he has increased the harvest yields to obtain less concentration in the fruit. He has also changed the training method from simple to double guyot. “To get more balance between foliage and fruit,” says Luca.

“It is also very important to harvest at exactly the right time. In just one day you can lose all the acidity in the wine,” he says, adding, “I prefer to harvest two days early than two days late.”

In the cellar, it is also important to be diligent. “We avoid skin contact that gives tannins and we also remove the pips,” he says.

Roccafiore works with careful craftsmanship and has experimented with different fermentation and storage vessels. “Today I keep the wine in already used tonneaux and ten per cent are kept in terracotta vessels,” says Luca.

Grechetto Fiofiore has a wonderful freshness, has a good grip, yet full-bodied with tones of tropical fruits, chamomile, straw and yellow apples. It is complex, with fresh acidity and very good.

Roccafiore Fiorfiore, grechetto from Umbria

Roccafiore Fiorfiore, grechetto from Umbria, copyright A Johansson

Sangiovese from Umbria

At Roccafiore, Luca also makes wine from sangiovese, just like in neighbouring Tuscany.

“Our sangiovese is for the curious wine lover who wants to try something new,” says Luca. He thinks that sangiovese from Umbria is more full-bodied, rounder and less tannic than that from Tuscany. “We have a warmer climate in Umbria compared to Tuscany and this is reflected in the wines,” he says.

His 2017 Sangiovese, a really hot year, is full-bodied with very present tannins, ripe cherries, intense ruby-red colour and, despite the hot year, it has a nice acidity.

“If you like football, a Tuscan sangiovese would play midfielder while one from Umbria would be a forward,” says Luca.

And I suppose he thinks Umbria is ready to attack. In any case, I wouldn’t be surprised, not after tasting the Roccafiore wines.

Read more about them on their site roccafiorewines.com

Åsa Johansson is BKWine’s person in Italy. She lives in Florence since the early ’00s. Asa writes regularly on wine and food in Swedish and Italian publications as well as online.

 

This post is also available in: Swedish

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