The Wine: Litro Rosso 2019
Conestabile della Staffa NuovO is a red natural wine made from a blend of 90% Sangiovese, and 10% of Ciliegiolo and Aleatico. Danilo Marcucci made this wine using a semi-carbonic vinification technique: partially destemmed, partial whole-cluster fermentation in an open-top fermenter with a bit of a submerged cap. Danilo aged the wine briefly post-ferment in his newly acquired, 1970's era second hand, fiberglass tank that looks like the Apollo Moon Lander, which is featured on the label.
The Producer: Conestabile della Staffa
Conestabile della Staffa is a winery located in Monte Melino, province of Perugia, Umbria Region. The history of Conestabile della Staffa goes back to Orvieto, a city famous for the white wine Orvieto, where the family, of noble origins, owned over 700 hectares of land. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Conestabile della Staffa was the most important winery in the Trasimeno-Perugino area, producing over 10,000 hectoliters of wine per vintage.
Nowadays, Conestabile della Staffa, is led by Danilo Marcucci, one of the most talented winemaker in Italy. Danilo Marcucci, together with Angiolino Maule of La Biancara winery, is one of the most outspoken and authoritative Italian natural winemakers and he is regarded as some a true master of the craft. Danilo’s wife, Alessandra, is the owner of Conestabile della Staffa, a descendant of the Counts who have owned the estate since ancient times.
Today Conestabile della Staffa comprises of 12 hectares of vines which were planted in the early 1970s. The wines are made in the most natural way possible by Danilo Marcucci, strong of a long winemaking and farming career, often as a sideman of Italy’s wine masters, such as Lino Maga, Eduardo Valentini, Cappellano, Vittorio Mattioli and others.
Danilo Marcucci grows native grapes Grechetto, Trebbiano, Ciliegiolo, Sangiovese, Gamay del Trasimeno, Canaiolo, and of course Sagrantino, vinified with native yeasts, no chemicals, no added sulfites. Results are mesmerizing, Danilo Marcucci’s wines are an instant classic, benchmarks for natural winemakers all around the world.
The Region: Umbria
Umbria is no doubt one of Italy’s many hidden gems. A tiny hilly region right in the center of Italy with no access to the coast, Umbria borders with Tuscany (West), Marche (East), and Lazio (Southwest). Its capital is the medieval city of Perugia.
Umbria is the fourth-smallest wine producing region in Italy, and only the 20% of all wine produced falls under a DOC or DOCG appellation. This, however, by no means mirrors Umbria's wine production quality, which in the last ten years has increased considerably.
Umbria, despite its size, is an immensely rich agricultural region, with a plethora of typical products, such as olive oil, cheese, charcuterie, cured meats, wheat, and truffles.
The Terroir of Umbria
Due to its position, right in the heart of the Italian peninsula, and lack of access to the sea, Umbria has a fairly homogenous continental climate with cold winters and hot summers.
Along the coast of Lake Trasimeno, on the Northwestern border with Tuscany, the climate is slightly milder. Here we find the higher density of vineyards, planted on Umbria's characteristic rolling hills.
The Red Wines of Umbria
Even though Umbria is more famous for its white wines - a common thread in Central Italy if we think about Marche and Lazio - the only two DOCGs appellations are red wines.
Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG: made with 100% Sagrantino grapes, native to Umbria and specifically to the town of Montefalco. Sagrantino is one of the most tannic grape varietals in Italy and gives wines that are intensely dark.
Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG: made with 70%-100% Sangiovese, and 30% maximum of other grape varietals such as Canaiolo, Cigliegiolo, Montepulciano, and even white grape varietal Trebbiano.
In addition to the two DOCGs, there are in Umbria several producers making wine with international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and also Gamay.
The White Wines of Umbria
Umbria has been historically a land of white wines with Orvieto being perhaps its best-known white wine and for a specific reason. Orvieto is, in fact, a blend of several grape varietals native to Umbria such as Grechetto, Verdello, Trebbiano, also known as Procanico, and Drupeggio.
Chardonnay also finds its place in Umbria, though it's a fairly recent trend, where it's often blended with Grechetto for a distinct Umbrian style Chardonnay.