AWC Blog

Spotlight: The Cult Wines of Paolo Bea

“The Bea wines are all about subtlety, grace and elegance. At their best, they are among the finest wines to emerge from Montefalco, and Italy, for that matter.” – Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
Paolo Bea

For those of you familiar with the uniquely captivating wines of Paolo Bea, our annual allocations have arrived!
For those who don’t know these wines…
Paolo Bea is the quintessential artisanal producer, steeped in the traditions of Montefalco. His family have lived on the same land dating back to 1150.
This tiny estate is the classic Italian fattoria, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables. The wine making didn’t get added to their ‘portfolio’ until the 1980s.
Paolo is hyper committed to his land’s health through biodiversity, which is why at Bea’s estate,  you won’t find the endless rows of vines typical of most vineyards. His vines remain inter-planted among forests, olive trees, vegetables and wild herbs, the way it’s been for hundreds of years in this part of Italy. Some of the vines are extremely old and are the size of full-grown trees.
Paolo himself remains the guiding force behind the production of his estate, sharing his traditional, non-interventionist approach with his two sons—Giuseppe, who farms the vineyards, and Giampiero, who oversees the wine making. Each bottle provides an indication of the total produced that year, and many feature a slight presence of sediment, demonstrating the wholly natural methods of production.
Although Sangiovese is the most prolific of the Umbrian varietals, Umbria’s identity is intimately connected to Sagrantino, a grape that has enjoyed premier positioning in this region for centuries.

This is Bea’s passion and his specialty.

Bea’s approach is, and has always been, firmly rooted in the absolute necessity of articulating Montefalco’s terroir. He says “Nature should be observed, heard, [and] understood, not dominated.”  Thus, his protocol is essentially natural and non-interventionist. “Wine is not made by man but generated by nature,” he says.
The Bea estate—similar to its lead varietal—nurtures a penchant for obscurity. The acreage devoted to wine production totals less than one-third of the estate, despite the fact that additional acres could easily be planted to vine. The family desires to keep production numbers low in order to maintain a very modest profile.
The vineyards are cultivated organically, all grapes are harvested manually and all wines are bottled without fining or filtration.

This is what we think the benchmark of “Natural” wines are.

Paolo Bea Umbria Rosso ‘San Valentino’ 2011 $45
Succulent red and black fruits dance with lilac petals, pencil lead, warm baking spices, saddle leather, forest floor, crushed herbs and a touch of sauvage in the wonderfully complex and intriguing Rosso de Véo. This wine exults in its tension between its sweet and savory elements, between its silky texture and chewy tannins, and between its earthiness and ethereal feel. Enjoyable now, this wine will cellar for another decade or longer. Made from the estate’s youngest Sagrantino vines, Rosso de Véo derives mostly from the Cerrete vineyard, the highest point of Bea’s estate at about 1,300-1,500 feet above sea level. Bea vinifies the de Véo in the same fashion as its Montefalco Sagrantino–a painstaking multi-step process that includes a 40-50 day cuvaison, a year of aging in stainless steel, two years in oak barrels, and another year in bottle before release.
100% Sagrantino.  The 2011 Pagliaro is a magnificent and imposing wine. The year was very warm and you sense this in the wine’s colossal scale and explosiveness. The 2011 Pagliaro really amazes in how harmonious it is, how its overall composition make sense. It packs an enormous amount of complexity – there are complicated shadings of earth, dark fruits, spice, floral notes and sun-baked herbs.Intense, concentrated, and bursting with black and red fruits, coffee and spice.
If you’ve never had “orange wine” this would be a good place to start. Orange wine is wine made from white grapes but left in contact with the skins (like a red) to extract an orange or copper color. Rainier cherries, white stone fruits, and melon waft with savory minerals, toffee, licorice and white flower petals in this indescribable, opulent and spicy orange wine from Paolo Bea. 2015 saw a hot vintage in Umbria, and this wine reflects that heat with its generous, open-knit profile, but a sturdy mineral core and vibrant acidity keep it nimble and lively.
Call, click or come in to secure your bottles today.

Quantities are very limited.

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