Arnaldo Caprai are the leading exponent of the Sagrantino grape bringing it to its fullest and most glorious expression in the award winning, poll topping, mouth puckering, 25 Anni Sagrantino di Montefalco. Arnaldo Caprai wines are low yield, attention to detail, terroir exploiting brilliant expressions of every grape under vine, no fillers, all killers, the entire range is outstanding. Yesterday I was fortunate enough to visit the vineyards of Arnaldo Caprai, 4kms outside of Montefalco and snoop around the nerve centre of the operation as well as partaking in a tasting of their best wines. Arnaldo Caprai are world famous for their top bottling, the 25 Anni Sagrantino di Montefalco, the best wine of the vineyard and, in my opinion, the best wine currently produced in all of Umbria.
Arnaldo Caprai also produce a stunning blended wine, barely known outside Italy, called Rosso Outsider, a wine of wonderful aroma and mouth feel that really encapsulates the fabulous terroir the vineyard occupies. This area is not just about Sagrantino, the Rosso Outsider is a 50/50 Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon blend that holds a bunch of candles to your famous Super Tuscans. I am very serious when I say that the 2005 vintage I tried can be happily awarded 95 points, wonderfully smooth, and I´d wager the best blended Umbrian wine. At a price point of €30, this is the QPR wine of the vineyard. I see this wine gaining notoriety over the next 5-10 years in a major major way, so investors and serious wine enthusiasts are strongly advised to buy a case of the ’04 or ’05.
The vineyards occupy a stunning position and you´ll see this blog entry is loaded with images, the entire area around Montefalco is part of a wine tour trail which I didn´t have time to embark on yesterday but will definately take a week to explore. The town of Montefalco is more geared towards wine than any other Italian town I´ve visited with a really shocking state of the art piece of wine kit in the central square and a super stocked wine bar which I will write about in the next blog entry.
Arnaldo Caprai produce nine wines, a grappa and also a fine olive oil. The most impressive point of the visit for me, aside the the beautiful setting, state of the art buildings and jazzy displays is the fact that this vineyard has achieved excellence across several grape varietals. Arnaldo Caprai tend Sagrantino, Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grechetto, Ciligiolo and a really low yield but carefully tended Pinot Noir. So shocked was I to see a Pinot I agreed to buy a bottle on the spot, only later realising they came in magnum form and were not exactly price sensitive! The 2001 Pinot Noir ¨Nero Outsider¨ looks the biz but I´m running out of occasions for these mags! Arnaldo Caprai wines are quality throughout but it is the aromatic qualities that stand out the most and I can´t wait to stick my nose in this Pinot mag.
Another happy shock was the quality of their only white, the Umbrian classic, Grechetto grape finds near perfect expression in the vineyards Grecante wine. Anyone who reads the blog will know I have a teeny tiny bias for reds and am no fan of the Grechetto grape yet the Caprai version is certainly the best Grechetto I´ve tasted. Coming in at under €10 a bottle, this is another sound offering that I happily scored at 89 points.
The star of the tasting was, no doubt, the 25 Anni Sagrantino, the 2004 vintage I could smell as the assistant was pouring the sample. A tremendous nose from a foot away giving off aromas of perfectly ripe fruit, vanilla and spices. This is the best nose I´ve sniffed all year. The wine was hugely tannic and after a 10 second swill around the palate speaking became an effort, really puckering wine but the tannins were soft and enjoyable. The colour of this wine was the darkest of all the samples and I´m scoring the 2004 vintage a whopping, thigh slapping 97 points. The highest of any wine I´ve scored in 2008. €55 a bottle?! Bargain.
If you haven´t tried a Sagrantino but don´t fancy a €55 outlay then Caprai do a kinda 2nd cru, the ¨Collepiano¨ is aged slightly less and has a higher yield but is still one of the top 5 Sagrantino´s produced in the whole region. Similar to the 25 Anni, a little less potent coming in at around €30, in the best vintages has achieved a 95 point Parker rating, seriously good.
So enough waffle, the photographs tell the story of a wonderful morning (thats right folks, my drinking is now open 24 hours!) where glasses got smashed, favourite T-Shirts got stanined and the wines of Arnaldo Caprai got bumped to my personal Serie A of Italian producers. The facility itself is stunning and if you´re in the area you must go and visit this producer showcasing Umbrian wines at their best and the Umbrian countryside at its most beautiful.
Arnaldo Caprai Grecante Grechetto dei Colli Martani 2007 – BUY – €9
Nice straw colour with some green hues on the rim. A subtle but pleasant fruity aroma with some floral action in there too, plus a little light herb. Refreshing palate, soft and fruity. A perfect wine for a prawn/tuna salad. 89 Points
Arnaldo Caprai Montefalco Rosso 2005 – BUY – €11
A light ruby red colour with a neat super packed, sucker punch nose. Giving up all the red berries and vanilla in typical Sangiovese style, which it should, the wine is a blended 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 15% Merlot show stopper. Succulent, full bodied palate, good long finish, easy drinking and exceptional QPR. 91 Points
Arnaldo Caprai Rosso Outsider 2005 – BUY – €30
Sits ruby red in the glass and colour consistant on the tilt. Another stand out nose, really an occasion where words can´t describe the intensity of the aroma. Sensational nose, make a kebab out of a wet pencil, blackberries, cherries and strawberries and wear it as a mustache for a week, you´ll get close to a quick sniff of this wine. Majorly exciting for nosehounds. The palate is also knockout, still very tannic, needs time but super potent, super soft a really intense wine experience. 95 Points
Arnaldo Caprai 25 Anni Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004 – BUY – €55
The darkest shade of ruby red, deep and brooding and close to black. New bottling lurching out of the traps aromatically, nowhere near tight, this wine is drinking superbly today. The best nose I´ve sampled all year, hit by potent aromas a foot away. Acres of ripe fruit, spices and vanilla, a masterclass in Sagrantino. Tannic like you´d expect, this wine is going to slay you in 10 years time but even today soft and full tannins that stay with the fruit, balance, structure till 2024. Almost perfect. 97 Points
Am I seriously recommending all these wines? YES. Am I in Arnaldo Caprai´s pay? NO. This producer rocks the casbah, so what if I ruined my favourite Tee? visit an Italian vineyard with California blazened across your chest and you deserve no better.
I´ve recommended the 25 Anni previously so I am going to push the Rosso Outsider as the best value wine and tell you where you can buy it!
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans – Divine Golosita – €40
Americans – Beltramos – $69
Brits – No seller as per usual. Will let you know if TCD will stock.
Question of the Day
Who is your sure fire producer?