While among the top 100 Italian wines selected by the prestigious American magazine Wine Spectator for OperaWine there is also Arnaldo Caprai's Sagrantino 25 anni, the Umbrian company headed by Marco Caprai at Vinitaly (Verona, 7-10 April 2019, Hall 7 - B6) is shining the spotlight on its white wines and the new #CAPRAI4LOVE project.
THE OTHER HALF OF THE WORLD YOU WILL UNDERSTAND
Many call him the king of Sagrantino, but Marco Caprai has always turned his tireless efforts to promote Umbrian viticulture and native grape varieties also to the white varieties and vintages presented at Vinitaly 2019 are all signed by Michel Rolland, the French oenologist considered among the most authoritative on the international scene or, as Marco Caprai calls him, 'our Cristiano Ronaldo', with whom the collaboration began four years ago. And now it is time to taste the fruits, starting, precisely, with white wines.
This is the case with Grechetto, the symbolic white grape of Umbria, which Caprai has been offering since 1989 with its GrecanteA wine of great personality and character, perhaps one of the most important Grechettos in the region and consequently in Italy. A smooth and balanced white, rich and multifaceted, very long, which with the 2016 vintage has managed to enter fully into Wine Spectator's prestigious Top100.
Montefalco, which like only the world's great wine territories manages to combine the quality of both red and white wines,
For Caprai, it has always passed through research and experimentation, conducted together with the University of Milan: constant work that from the outset has also involved international grape varieties, to understand which ones can best express their potential in Montefalco in Umbria, assimilating unique peculiarities that can only be brought out thanks to this territory. This is the case of the Chardonnay Umbria IGT and the Sauvignon Umbria IGTThe first is seductive, fresh, rich in hints of citrus, pear and white peach, with mineral and delicately buttery notes; the second is an explosion of white flowers, with a touch of citrus and fun vegetal notes. Then there is the intense and refined Cuvée Secrètewhich was launched in 2012 and which each year combines the best of the Montefalco winery's white berry production in a blend, as the name suggests, that is absolutely secret but which, in addition to Grechetto, aims to bring out the best expressiveness of Italian and international varieties.
These four labels are now joined by a Classic Method BrutFar from being yet another exercise in style dictated by commercial objectives. The story of this new label encapsulates - and goes even further than - the entire green philosophy that Marco Caprai has been pursuing for years to enhance and keep intact and vital the typical characteristics of the Montefalco territory, knowing how to compete over time in a condition of sustainability. That same environmental, economic and social sustainability has found full representation in the 'Montefalco 2015: The New Green Revolution' project, the first territorial sustainability protocol in the wine industry.
Thus, the 2 hectares of vineyards dedicated to the production of the new Metodo Classico Brut Arnaldo Caprai are not just any two hectares. The project, in fact, stems from the idea of replanting an area located towards the Apennine ridge in the Marche region, a portion of land that benefits from the influence of the sea at an altitude of between 500 and 800 metres above sea level, and of enhancing the inland areas of the Apennines between Umbria and Marche where, following the earthquakes that hit them, a real depopulation is underway that can only be fought with new enhancement projects. It was here that Marco Caprai, after careful study and analysis, decided to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and try to produce his first Metodo Classico.
From a project with a good heart can only be born something equally good: and so are these bubbles that are left to age on the mild at least 20 months, 50%Pinot Nero 50% Chardonnay. The vintage on the market today is 2017, the second vintage produced, which already demonstrates a fabric and class that rivals many other Italian metodo classico wines of longer experience and renown.
For Michel Rolland's signature Sagrantino will have to wait for the 2015 vintage to be released in a few months: 'Sagrantino,' Rolland emphasises, 'is a vine that has a marked personality, but it is possible to educate and direct it. In the world of wine, you succeed when you are able to propose something original, and Sagrantino has the ability to be unique'.
The objective set by the oenologist with the Caprai winery is to make this wine seductive, smoothing out its peculiar roughness but preserving its character: a Pygmalion, capable of modelling and improving the personality of the Sagrantino pupil, while favouring its natural inclinations. On tasting, all this is evident, surprising and fascinating at the same time.
"The aim is to broaden the ranks of regular consumers. A quantum leap that can also bring 'important numbers' for tourism,' says Caprai proudly, 'Rolland is the man who knows best about wine. With him we can really aim to make Sagrantino di Montefalco one of the best wines in the world".
A Vinitaly tastings will feature the 2014 Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino, a difficult vintage that, however, for Sagrantino brought out all its strength and character in wines complex and decidedly captivating.
Since its first edition in 2013, the #CAPRAI4LOVE project has become an integral and tangible part of the philosophy of the Arnaldo Caprai winery, a tool that expresses the winery's vision and ongoing commitment to the culture such as key element of sustainability. After the restoration of the letter Autograph dated 27 June 1452 by Benozzo Gozzoli and the restoration work on the fresco "Great Franciscans' (which is part of the The Life of St Francispainted by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1452 in Montefalco, in the Church of San Francesco), it is now the turn of the pergula, also located inside the church of San Francesco in Montefalco and dated 1562.
Built according to the serliana typology, the pergula has three openings, the central one with a round arch and the side ones with an architrave supported by columns. From the arch hung a wooden crucifix in relief, now preserved in the Montefalco Museum. The bases of the columns depict Saints Barbara, Rocco, Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, Sebastian and Catherine of Alexandria. Some of these saints belong to the Franciscan Order; the others are those to whom popular devotion most frequently turned in case of calamity. The figures, outlined with quick and light strokes, demonstrate the skill and elegance of the unknown executor, who conforms to the taste and style of the second Tuscan Mannerism and in particular Pontormo, to whom the figure of St. Sebastian seems to refer in particular. The carvings that adorn the pergula are inspired by classical motifs, which were particularly widespread in the 16th century repertoire. In 1913, in order to increase the visibility of Benozzo's frescoes, the pergula was removed and it was only in 1990, during the new museum project aimed at restoring the church to its historical identity, that it was put back in its place.
Today, thanks to the Arnaldo Caprai winery, this important work of art can return to its ancient splendour: 'For us, sustainability means exalting all our values, from nature to culture, from society to work, from business to the landscape, in a harmonious whole that is based on the utmost valorisation of the territory and the community in which we operate. After all, it is Montefalco and its community that give us Sagrantino, and we to Montefalco and the community must return a social dividend'.
ARNALDO CAPRAI FARM AT A GLANCE
Few other wineries in Italy and around the world are immediately identified just by mentioning the name of the denomination to which they belong, like Arnaldo Caprai, itself a symbol of Sagrantino di Montefalco. A unique reality, synonymous with Italian excellence, capable of creating wines that are out of the ordinary in terms of depth, elegance and longevity: not only reds, but also whites. The credit for this adventure that began in the late 1970s goes to Marco Caprai, Arnaldo's son. It was he, in fact, more than anyone else who believed in the richness of Sagrantino, reinterpreting it in a modern key, through the most innovative production and business management methods, which have enabled him to win the favour of the public and critics all over the world. Not to be outdone by the whites: Arnaldo Caprai's Grecante, 100% Grechetto, managed to conquer Wine Spectator's Top100.
A great company, Arnaldo Caprai, that guards a green soul, considering issues concerning sustainability, protection and safeguarding the environment as fundamental. The point of observation always remains the same: trying to behave in harmony with natural evolution cycles, preserving and enhancing the territory in which it operates. This is why the company decided to create an Environmental Management System that complies with international regulations, developing a voluntary territorial protocol of environmental, economic and social sustainability of the production process.
It is in this unparalleled context that wines of unforgettable substance are born, complex and elegant, capable of narrating the best of an entire region, Umbria.