Making Wine with my Heroes in Umbria Last Month
Elbow Deep in Fermenting Grapes!
Four Days in Umbria
I just got back from Italy! I was there in Umbria for all of 3.5 days, but somehow it felt more like 10. I managed to visit 8 wineries and help make wine at 3 of them! It didn't feel rushed, but it was so immersive and intense that it felt like longer. I'm going to write a series of emails to cover what I did in some detail. In this email I'm going to cover Ceppaiolo and Dinamo
Here's a video tour of the Dinamo vineyard. Maybe you're familiar with the Dinamo wines. I've had them since late 2019. They're fantastic clean fun natural wines in litre bottles. They're made by the Nofrio family who had been growing grapes and selling them to others for a few generations, but the price for bulk grapes is so low now that it just wasn't even worth it to harvest the grapes anymore. They are right nearby to Danilo and Lake Trasimeno so they reached out, Danilo came and looked at their vineyard, and connected with them personally. So the Nofrios took the plunge into bottling and selling their own wine with Danilo as wine making consultant.
I'd been reading since the start that the Dinamo vineyards were super high up (600m) on top of a ride over looking lake Trasimeno, but I hadn't actually seen it because of the pandemic. I was really excited to see just what it was like and it did not disappoint! The vineyard was unbelievably steep. It gave Danilo's new Defender a real work out to make it up to the vineyard. It blows my mind that the Nofrios planted this 25 years ago to grow grapes that they just sold off in bulk. It's a fantastic place to plant vines thanks to the exposure, wind, drainage, hillside, etc; but it must be so hard to work!
The man with the white hair is the patriarch of the the Nofrios: Danilo Nofrio. He's a small wiry old man with long white hair and looked like s mystic or yogi. He arrived late and then held forth about how he only ate wild mushrooms, prosciutto, grapes, and bread. He said he really just wanted to stay in the woods foraging and hunting. It was hilarious: his children were in the background rolling their eyes and groaning about the kilos of mushrooms they had to eat all autumn. Danilo Marcucci afterwards said that Danilo Nofrio really got it and was a great person to work with as far as making natural wine. While I was there Danilo too Danilo Nofrio's son Simone to task though and I really got to see Danilo the professor. Danilo kept asking him about how much sugar was left in various fermenting wines and what it had been a day ago and the son would sort of hem and haw and say "well, I think" and Danilo just kept yelling in Italian "Have you made an analysis?!" It was pretty funny. You can hear it in the back ground of the video.
Dinamo Nucleo 1
Aroma: earthy, gamey, woodsy; blackberries and raspberries
Taste: juicy blackberry fruit up from with a hint of brambly woodsy flavors lingering behind it. There's nice acidity that's not in your face but does a great job of keeping the wine fresh and fun tasting. It's smooth, and then the mid pallet builds into some more earthy savory chocolatey sort of flavors. Then there's a salty dimension followed by some integrated tannin and a black cherry flavor that gives the wine more of a serious character and follow through.
You can find this at Bow St Freeport, John Edwards, and LeRoux Kitchen
Dinamo Elettriko petnat
Normally Dinamo's petnat is $17.55. But the pandemic made it hard for the winery to launch the wine in 2020 and they had a bunch left over.... so I bought it at a great price! It's a delicious raspberry and cherry flavored naturally sparkling rose made from direct press Sangiovese and Gamay del Trasimeno (Grenache). It's very fresh and fruit forward but has that nice little earthy savory component from the yeast. It's delicious and a fantastic price!
You can find this at Bath Natural, Now You're Cooking, Portland Food Co-op, LeRoux Kitchen, Solo Cucina, The Speckled Ax, The Natural Living Center in Bangor, Store Ampersand, 44 North, and Blue Hill Wine Shop
Here's a short video of a vineyard walk and then the process of pressing grapes at Ceppaiolo. Ceppaiolo is this tiny vineyard and falling down building in a suburb in central Umbria. It's kind of ridiculous. I think it belongs to Danilo's friend Riccardo. But because no one is depending on the vineyard for income to support them through the year Danilo uses it as a sort of test winery. He's free to try out new ideas, techniques, blends, and just make wines that he personally likes.
The vineyard is a tour of the winery, a bit of walking in the little vineyard, and then Danilo and I actually pressing off the juice that had been sitting on the skins to make the 2021 Ceppaiolo white wine. It was amazing to get to do it all: being elbow deep in warm fermenting wine, shoveling out the crushed compacted grapes, working the press; all of it.
The white is made from Trebbiano Spoletino grapes. Danilo lets the juice sit on the skins for about 10 days with 2 punch downs per day. He was judging when to press the juice off based on the smell.
There I am pressing grapes. I don't really know how to convey how great it was to be really doing it and involved in the process of making the wines I sell.
Aroma: spicy, a bit of ginger, apple, golden raisin, peach,
Taste: Pithy, orangey, very clean and focused. There's a really nice acidity all throughout. You notice the acidity more up front, then it get's a bit more generous and meaty. There's a delicious preach on the finish.
You can find this at Maine and Loire
Aroma: Super fresh vivid raspberry and cranberry, along with a touch of an aromatic spicy thing like sage.
Super smooth supple texture up front followed by raspberry fruit and black cherry on the midpalate. There's tannin that dries out and draws out the finish but it's not harsh- just a major part of the wine. There's also some black pepper to the finish that builds on the tannin. As deep and sunny as the wine is it has a lovely lightness to it, particularly in the mid palate. There's a strawberry flavor there that's reminiscent of a Jura red, but with warm central Italian sun!
Available at Maine and Loire, Cafe Louis, and Treats... or special order at any Wine Shop
And... we've got fresh hoodies in! They're $48 each. We've got black and neon pink. Let me know if you'd like one!
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