Last week it happened that I was in Umbria to celebrate the first anniversary of the #winelover community and also, invited to join Umbriafor#winelovers/13.
Valentine’s Day is Winelovers’ day! That’s the name of the wine bloggers that first got together a year ago and now gather in order to discover and let the world discover Umbria’s great wines. From their first meeting a community was born and it grew in the web, under the protection of St. Valentino, so that it now counts over 7000 participants who are sommelier, enologists, wine experts, journalists and wine lovers from all over the world.
We were meeting in Terni, in Caos cultural centre, for Umbria for #winelovers, four days of tastings, pairings, meetings, seminars and courses for getting to know Valentine’s Wines, the best of the regional wine production represented by 70 wineries, all belonging to Umbria Top consortium. Umbria delicacies were reunited among wines and top food quality, provided by a market but also prepared with passion with an Italian chef. Working truffles, risotto, fresh fish from lakes, lovely desserts, pancetta and other delicatessen !
So today, I decided to write a post of a winemaker, a man that I met at the fairground that really marked me, and touched me. His name is Stefano Leonucci and his wife, people of good hearts. Oh what a winemaker He is so human, so nature, so smiling !
I spended couple of hours on two days talking with him and tasting, retasting and finally really drinking and enjoying his wines !
A really great discovery, but first a little presentation.
The company Leonucci, mainly family-run establishment is situated on hills in the municipality of Massa Martana Montignano, covers an area of 70 hectares of which 10 are vineyards.
The company partly owned by the family Leonucci since 1964, has reached its present extent in 1987.
Through this long process and its rural origins, where by tradition and necessity, the consumption was the rule, the company has never stopped making wine for himself and a few friends.
Today it produces wines of great structure and personality, deeply tied to its territory, already suited to viticulture in Roman times, given the many discoveries on site fragments of wine amphorae from transport and storage jars.
The nearby ancient Via Flaminia, the road passes under the above fraction Montignano, is witness to what Rome could easily stock up on wine coming from our lands.
The vineyards consist of 8.5 hectares of vine Sagrantino, Merlot and 1.5 to 0.3 hectares of vine “Lugliolo » an ancient that he his trying to save from extinction. The systems are designed to bring out the best quality grapes. The vineyards are south-facing and have planting distances ranging from 6,250 to 7,700 plants per hectare. The vineyards are set to cordon low, using the support of the vegetation, in addition to supporting wire, three wire pairs containing the vegetation, which allow you to create a leaf surface, exposed to the sun, 3mq per linear meter, sufficient to produce 1 kg of grapes, equivalent to 650 grams per plant produced by 3-4 buds fertile, thus achieving its goals. The company also has two experimental vineyards: one with a sixth plant of 1.5 x 0.65 m equal to 10,200 plants per hectare, made with Sagrantino grape variety, grafted on two rootstocks with different vigor, the other consisting of from a small vineyard planted with white grape, locally called “Lugliolo”, selected by one of our old vineyard. Genetically similar to the variety “Pearl of Csaba”, now you’re considering your suitability for different types of wine.
The winery built in 1967, also small, traditionally located in the main house and adjacent to the tower, now fully restored and expanded features new barrels of fine French oak and American oak.
There are also indispensable in the basement winemakers and storage tanks in stainless steel with high-tech equipment allows the application of the most modern winemaking techniques, enhancing and protecting the fermentation of musts obtained from grapes extraordinarily selected in the vineyard.
Cure the magical evolution of the wines the wine maker immemso Maurilio Chioccia, attentive ferryman of the grapes in great wines “Leonucci”, with a typical brand and unique personality, so as to be incomparable.
The Producer and the Discovery
So back to Terni, Umbriafor#winelovers/13 at the « Leonucci » table.
First I tasted the wines on the first day really quick, while selecting wines for the Wine & Food Pairing Competition. All I could get was a big « waouh » something delicious, rich, expressive and exclusive, a kind of « Tuscan style » in the middle of Umbria. I met him and his wife really quickly, tasting two wines and improve tasting by some parmiggiano and ham offered kindly to pair with.
Really appreciative of the Leonucci s wines I promised him to get back to him on day number 2.
Day number two, more relaxed and so into discovering all about those wines.
Approaching the table Stefano Leonucci, he remembers me from the day before ( yes I don’t really speak Italian, so on the first day we were laughing pretty much) !
More close I get to his wines more he was smiling (« avoir la banane » french expression), he really appear like a good person, while his wife, a little very kind woman stands by his side.
You can spot happiness all over, pride and satisfaction and respect all over ! He really knows that he produces a Premium outstanding wine but does not make some show-off or exceed, he lets you discover by yourself !
If you get the right way to talk with him, the right feeling, like I did he will tell you even some secrets about his wine-making and wine, but I promised him (sorry for you readers) to not reveal his secrets !
He opened himself and I could feel a real nice story.
While he was a young boy, a kid, he started to work in vineyard and farms! Helping some people to produce wine, saw and participated into many hard works ! He had an idea, he wanted to make his own wine while being older and grown-up, even if it knew it would be some hard work .
Some years back, he started to make make his own wine, experimenting, learning, taking good care of his terroir and land with big respect.
While understanding, and getting better, he was producing some bulk wine and for family consumption of the quality level of the wine that he his making today !
So I say thanks a lot to share today with us Mr Leonucci !
As a nice storyteller for kids, he his bewitching you, enchanted you cannot stop listening. He consign that he does not care much about the IGP and DOC, that are not good classification system and not at all quality agreement. He is so proud to say that he makes « VINO DA TAVOLA » ! Then I should advice some people to make more table wine like him !
You should really taste !
He follows his own ideas, respecting the nature quoting « Nature does not have borders or limits, you have to work with it ».
He explained also that he works his soils just a minimum to allow and force the roots of the vine plant, to dig further and further to extract the best from the soil. And also to allow the berries from the grapebunch to spread and not stuck to each other so by this mean, not getting rot and sickness into the bunch of fruits.
He grew up on this terroir respecting mother Nature, so who better than him can understand it and play with the wine, how he makes it with his culture technics.
Al the vine strains are indigenous on american rootstock.
Tasting time is coming, with also proposed kindly again by his wife some good maturated pecorino and dried sausage.
The wine just coming to you nose and mouth whispers to your senses and make them so greedy !
Rich wines of an extreme elegance, well balanced, pure, floral and red fruity notes, light spicy notes. The alcohol percentage is well integrated and you don’t really feel it ! Tannin structure is amazingly well back boned into the wines for being produced with Sagrantino! I guess he is kind of a king of the Sagrantino, to make it so elegant and accessible, since it is a grape with really high marked tannin character.
Montignanello LS010 :
Appellation: Wine Red (VDT)
Grapes: 85% Sagrantino, Merlot 15%
Vineyard location: 240 meters above sea level, facing south
Density per hectare: 6250 / hectare
Training system: Spurred cordon low
Harvest: by hand, from 28 September for the Merlot,
October 10 for Sagrantino
Maturation: in stainless steel
Alcohol: 15% vol
From Wire Vine Line number 1 to number 120, low hill in the vineyard, born there Montignanello named after the village.
The labors are always the same and it is here that the Merlot sometimes gets married, in small part, to the noble Sagrantino.
The wood does not touch and, for those who can’t wait, give the fruit, as nature has given him over the years and well preserved.
The Montignanello wine is always very full-bodied, it can also accompany white meat, but the best of it always expresses accompanying savory red meats, such as lamb and game.
Service at 16 -18 degrees.
Re Del Sole LS08 :
Appellation: Wine Red (V.D.T.)
Grapes: 100% Sagrantino
Vineyard location: 280 meters above sea level, facing south
Density per hectare: 7700/hectare
Training system: Spurred cordon low
Harvest: by hand, from October 20
Ageing: 12 months in stainless steel, 18 months in new barrels
Troncais 50%, 50% Alien, six months in bottle
Alcohol: 16% vol.
From Wire Vine Line number 47 to 92, in the vineyard great high hill. There is born Re Del Sole (King of the Sun) it all starts ever since the appearance of the first buds until the vine stun.
There are so beautiful bunches that remain suspended until the last days of October.
And then by the same hands that work the lives and the land that gave him so much, he is going to create something unique that gives him twenty years of life.
Wine mainly accompany with toasted ground, with typical Umbrian Easter cakes with capocollo, meats, great cheeses.
Always the first actor, it may accompany red meats, game and even some types of cakes.
Service at 16 – 18 degrees.
Also I does produce another wine that I could not taste because no more stock ! He promised me I would be able to taste his next vintage !
Named Cingòlo, he named this wine according to when he went to Uruguay where he met the woman of his life, now his wife. He said he was eating local, and drking a wine named Cingòlo.
From Wire Vine Line n. 1 to n. 46 and 93 to 130 in the vineyard great high hill, the foreign name of humble origins, nature has otherwise given, but the same one big vine: Sagrantino.
The hands and the treatment is always the same, perhaps even more than his older brother, fine wood goes to mature, also eventually enforce and long endures.
Wine for large meals such as red meat and game. It goes very well with meats and cheeses.
Service to 16 – 18 degrees.
Productions of previous years are gone, will be released soon the year 2010 which promises to be extraordinary.
If you are smart enough and decide to import or buy his wines you will get a really great deal for this Top Premium quality level!
For more informations don’t hesitate to contact me, even if you want any idea on the prices.
Next of my steps will be to get back there to visit him, really would love to see him work and why not give it a try for a few days ?!