A wine-tasting at an Umbrian vineyard! I couldn’t wait. As I hopped onto the bus in Terni, Umbria, with several other travel writers and bloggers, I was looking forward to a spectacular wine-tasting and lunch at a vineyard and cantina by the name of La Palazzola.
A few months ago, I was invited to Terni as a guest of GAL Ternano, along with Tom Weber, The Palladian Traveler, to participate in a familiarisation trip of the area. Over the course of two days, we visited several small and pretty towns, including Amelia, Arrone and Narni. Now we were heading to the 10th century, medieval hamlet of Stroncone to taste the local wines.
Pulling into the driveway, we were greeted by Stefano Grilli, the owner of the vineyard and a flock of geese who looked keen to get our undivided attention.
However, we all stood around in the shade while Stefano told us that La Palazzola consists of 24 hectares of vines and was founded in 1900 by his grandfather.
Until the sixties the vineyard produced only basic table wine to sell locally. Deciding to go up-market, refining their wines over the next number of years, they were one of the first to make and export fine wine from this area of Umbria. Beginning in 1990, they now produce 150,000 bottles of wine per annum to export all over Europe and the US. Stefano told us that he works solely alongside two oenologists.
After our chat, we strolled around the vineyard to explore.
Ushered inside a long dining hall, we were greeted by a table groaning with wine and food, so we pulled up our chairs and set to the task of tasting everything in sight.
When we sat down for lunch I realised that I was sitting alongside one of the aforementioned oenologists, also called Stefano. He told me that he studied oenology and agronomy in Bologna and has been working at La Palazzola for thirteen years.
He informed me that the wine they produce is biological and not DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata), but IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica). Full of information, he mentioned that being in the Sabina Valley, the vines are never troubled by mould as it is always breezy.
Lunch was delicious and we sampled the wines already poured.
As we sat down we were each handed a glass of Brut Rose, a sparkling blend of Sangiovese and Pinot Nero.
We then began our antipasti of cold meats, including prosciutto, lardo and salami, during which we sampled other wines.
Our main course consisted of succulent porchetta with roast potatoes and I sampled some Verdello 2013. Made from 100% Verdetto, which comes only from this region, it had an unusual dusty taste and I liked it a lot.
We also tasted Rubino, their most popular wine. It is a mix of Cabernet 80% and Merlot 16% plus 4% mix of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The Rubino is a great colour; very deep red with a fabulous nose and after-taste which releases a great waft of spicy scent.
Next came a platter of delicious, locally produced cheeses.
Lunch was rounded off with some sweet, home baked biscotti and a taste of Passito Bianco Umbria, which was sweet and delicious.
Tasting their Bacca Rossa was a treat: an amber coloured passito rosso, it is matured in oak barrels.
They also make a fabulous Vin Santo in small barrels. Sealed with wax. Filled with Trebbiano and Malvasia 50/50. It matures and ferments over four years, then in bottles for another 3 or 4 years. They are now selling 2005/2006 vintage.
La Palazzola have awards for their Vin Santo and Rubino.