Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the year: Cantine Aperte. A countrywide wine tasting, the event’s name literally means “Open Wineries.” I started just outside of the Montefalco region, a D.O.C.G. region that produces wines made with the Sagrantino grape. The word sagra means festival or party, so I like to think of the grape as a “little party,” although that is not actually what it means. However, yesterday’s event was a very. big. party.
The wine road, La Strada del Sagrantino, runs through the region, bringing many visitors to the wineries. I visited Antonelli Winery first. Even at 10:30 in the morning, barbecues were smoking, and salami and prosciutto were being sliced and served. My girlfriend and I purchased our glasses for 5 euros each, then tried our second Grechetto. It was different than the first (less oak), showing the grape’s versatility. At the next winery, Fongoli, each glass of wine cost between 1-2.50 euros. Their wines are good, but because I was driving, I wasn’t prepared to drink an entire glass of wine. We drove on to find more tastings.
After 5 minutes of driving, I found Perticaia winery, which was offering three small pairings of wine and food for 5 euros. Perticaia offered my favorite Sagrantino di Montefalco D.O.C.G. of the day. The 2005 was classic, very refined. Some American wine drinkers might be turned off by how dry the Montefalco DOCG wines are; I personally wouldn’t want to drink them alone. They are, after all, designed to be paired with food. Perticaia’s Montefalco Riserva was served with a traditional porchetta panino, aka pork sandwich. To make porchetta, an entire pig is deboned, then filled with a stuffing composed of its organs and herbs. The entire pig is then roasted. The sandwich was delicious and tasted like a combination of pork, sweetbreads, and foie gras. Very rich and decadent. A perfect pairing.
I had a free tasting at Cantina Colle Ciocco before finding the real party. When I arrived at Tiburzi winery, I knew this wasn’t a middle-of-the-road winery. Fashionable women were pouring wine, a band was playing, and a single table held 30 or so college students who were seriously celebrating. For a moment I thought I’d walked onto the set of MTV’s Spring break. Tiburzi also offered free tastings, and the students were actually having cases of wine served to them. Sitting in the shade, escaping the hot sun, and watching the party swell around me, I decided to take a break from taking tasting notes and just relax. A water fight broke out. Summer has truly begun.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about the incredible dinner served by the restaurant at Pian di Boccio’s restaurant. The campground is also an agriturismo, which produces its own olive oil and a plethora of home-style marinated veggies.
Written by and photos by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com