Whilst its wines are less well-known than those of neighbouring Tuscany, Umbria has hundreds of vineyards both large and small, producing often delicious and under-valued wines ranging from the deep reds using the Sagrantino grape to the crisp dry whites made with the Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes.
Umbria produces two DOCG wines and 13 DOC wines, all found within a one-and-a-half hour drive of Paciano.
Almost all of the vineyards (Cantinas) can be visited on spec and their wines tasted for free. Tastings can also be booked, during which food is provided. There may be a charge if you don’t buy anything! Many Cantinas hold an open day on the last Sunday in May and also on a weekend in November (known as Cantine Aperte). Music is provided at the larger cantina and whilst the wines can usually be tasted for free, a charge is made for any food provided. It a very popular event with the local Italians and the most renowned Cantinas are packed by 1 pm.
Colli del Trasimeno
These are our local wines, coming from the hills surrounding Lake Trasimeno. You can find reds, rosé and white across a range of styles and prices and which are generally excellent value for money.
The closest vineyard to Paciano (3 km) is La Querciolana outside Panicale. Prices between €5 – €9.
If you are in Paciano between 15 September and 15 June you can also buy a good, locally produced red wine called Pacus from the La Saporita apple farm just outside the town.
The Duca del Corgna wines can be bought from their cantina in Castiglione del Lago. One of our favourites from here is their white Nuricante wine, made with 100% Grechetto. In addition to bottled wine it is also possible to buy wine by the litre as vino sfuso, literally, “loose wine”. This comes from a large metal vat via a hose resembling a petrol pump and retails at between €1 – €2 per litre. There is an empty five litre bottle in our kitchen if you want to try this!
Two of our favourite more “up-market” vineyards lie about a 15-minute drive west of Castiglione del Lago. The nearest is Poggio Bertaio, which whilst producing a very good value white (€6), has several fine reds ranging from €9 to €30+.
The Madrevite vineyard proves a white, a rosé, and several reds, and at a slightly higher price range.
Montefalco is a beautiful town perched on a hilltop 30 miles south-east of Perugia. The red Sagrantino grape is grown here and it possibly contains the highest amount of anti-oxidants of any red wines. It takes about one-and-a-half hours to get there from Paciano.
Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG contains 100% Sagrantino and is a powerful deep red wine; the best examples can be kept for over 30 years.
Rosso di Montefalco DOC is a blend made from 60-70% Sangiovese, 10-15% Sagrantino and 15-30% other grapes. It is aged for at least three years, with a minimum of six months in the bottle. It is less powerful than the Sagrantino and is released earlier – thus cheaper!
Montefalco Sagrantino Passito DOC is a dessert wine made using partially dried sagrantino grapes and is delicious.
Torgiano lies south of Perugia and the wines found here are almost exclusively produced by Lungarotti. Driving time to Torgiano about one hour.
Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG is a blend of 50-70% Sangiovese, 15-30% Canaiolo, 10% Trebbiano and 15% other varietals. This is a sophisticated red which can age for ten years or more.
Bianco di Torgiano DOC is an easy-drinking white using a blend of Trebbiano, Grechetto and other white grapes.
Umbria is possibly best known for the white wine produced in the Orvieto area. Orvieto is a splendid town built on a rocky plateau of tufa and is less than an hour’s drive from our house.
Orvieto Classico DOC is the best white wine and contains at least 60% Trebbiano and Grechetto combined.
Orvieto Classico DOC wines come from all over the Terni province and is available from dry through to sweet.
Tuscany produces some of Italy’s most famous wines and those found within a one-and-a-half hour drive include Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.
Montepulciano is due west of Paciano and its sparkling lights are visible from our house at night. It is a 45-minute drive and well worth visiting even if you don’t want to taste the wines.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is made with at least 60% Sangiovese. It is less concentrated than Brunello. The most renowned local vineyard is Avignonesi.
Rosso di Montepulciano DOC is a blend with at least 70% Sangiovese and is released earlier than the Nobile and is an easier-drinking wine.
Vin Santo DOC is made typically from Malvasia Bianco, Grechetto and Trebbiano and is a lovely dessert wine.
Montalcino lies in the famous Val D’Orcia and is yet another town situated on a hill-top. It is an attractive town about a one-and-a-half hour’s drive from us.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is one of Italy’s most prestigious wines. It is made exclusively from the Sangiovese grapes grown in the area. They are aged for at least four years (five for Riserva) with two years in oak.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC is also made with 100% Sangiovese but is only aged for one year with only six months in oak. Consequently it is lighter and fresher – and less expensive.