2007 Paolo Bea Pagliaro Secco, Sagrantino di Montefalco

Opened this at lunch today. It was in my cheap rack. I was amazed by it and scrounged up the receipt. Ok - not so cheap (about $80) but wow was it interesting and complex. I confess to knowing nothing about the wine (I am working my way through Sicily but Italy in general is overwhelming to me). Are others familiar with this wine/producer? I am a BIG fan!!

-KB
http://www.pearlsandoysters.com

Yes, Bea is generally considered the best producer of Sagrantino. They are powerful, tannic wines, and very expressive. So you’re in good company liking this one! Here’s the winery’s website and the importer’s web page on Bea.

The grape is own grown around Montefalco, and traditionally was made as a sweet wine, probably because of its brutal tannins (as was Barolo, for the same reason).

The only old Sagrantinos I’ve had have been badly stored, sadly, so I don’t have first-hand experience of their long-term potential. I have a few with good provenance from the last 90s that I’m waiting on, and a few Beas from the mid-2000s. The intense tannins and acid should keep them forever. I’m just hoping they develop real complexity.

Hi Kara,

I’m sipping on a 07 San Valentino as I type this. There is alot of info on the web about Bea. To me, these wines are old school much like Quintarelli in the Veneto. Long fermentations, wine making processes that can vary greatly from year to year and also some variabilty in terms of quality.

When they are on, they are incredible, when they miss, they miss in a variety of ways - bacterial problems, excess VA - like the 07 I am drinking now, etc.

I had an 08 San Valentino a few days ago that was incredible, dense fruit, excellent balance of tannin/acid and just kept improving through the following day.

I was never a fan of the 07 SV, and this bottle started off very well, but unfortunately it is now showing alot of ethyl aldehyde/ VA - i.e lacquer or nail polish like flavors and aromas.

As for the Pagliaro, I’m still waiting on my 04’s and 05’s - the last bottle I had of the 05 was great on the first sip then shut down quickly.

I love these wines, I’ll continue to buy them, but I always keep in mind that they can be variable.

Thank you for the responses. Your comment Gene that an 05 was great on the first sip and then shut down is interesting. I actually found this wine to be more impressive when first opened but still great as we worked our way through the bottle but I assumed that was just palate fatigue. Are you suggesting that the 2007 might be too young?

One other question - I am tempted to head out and buy up whatever stock my store has of this wine. The variation you describe - do you see vintage to vintage/producer to producer or is it BV?

Thank again! Amazing intel!

-KB
http://www.pearlsandoysters.com

The last bottle of this I had was the 95, and its my impression that these need the full 15 years. The 97 i had a couple years ago was one the best wines I’ve ever had. There are some years that may be approachable at 10, but I’ll reserve my judgement. My bottles have been pretty consistent, but people have complained about big bottle variation from Bea.

Also, i think 07 was the first year Bea released the Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco Cerrete, which is supposed to be a “cru type” sagrantino.

Did they release the '08s yet?

Kara,

I haven’t had the 07 Pagliaro so I couldn’t say if it is too young (as I would perceive it).

Its my understanding that Bea had alot of variability vintage to vintage - I believe there was no temperature control of the fermentation (it may have changed recently) and the style of winemaking was very old school.

07 is a warmer vintage according to Galloni, and that is what Bea prefers. I’m not sure if the warmer vintages make the wines more suceptible to VA like flavors, or if its just the stewed quality of riper fruit that can occur.

I tell myself that part of the charm of these wines is that they aren’t made to play it safe.

I would not let my opinions sway you, if you loved that 07, I would hope you at least try it again soon to confirm or deny your initial impressions.

Antonelli and Arnoldo-Caprai also make Sagrantinos that are worth a try.

Barolo was not made sweet because of the tannins. Most wines in the 19th century were on the sweet side because of the prevailing taste and because of not so advanced winemaking techniques… I would advise the following: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Short-History-Wine-Rodney-Phillips/dp/0060937378

Arnaldo Caprai is borderline insulting with his wines: big, bold and a remote thing from real sagrantino. Piling up oak tannins to Sagrantino is not a wise move… Of course IMHO and you are indeed most welcome to experiment with the producer (who used to be the darling of the Italian wine guides)

If you liked this, one other wine he makes that I recommend is his Pipparello - I believe a blend of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Sangiovese and Sagrantino. As several others have already commented, a lot of bottle variation, but like winemakers like Valentini and Pepe, when you get a good bottle, they can be very special. [cheers.gif]

Bea also makes some fascinating skin-fermented whites. Not to everyone’s tastes (and Bea can be polarizing, and Umbria can be polarizing too) but worth trying.

Don’t take my word for it; I haven’t had a lot of A-C wines, but they get some love on this board, and on Cellar Tracker as well.

By the way, it seems disingenuous to describe your opinion as humble.

Ted,

thanks for providing insights on the taste of this forum and for sharing your knowledge of this producer. I may also add that my taste is very personal and there are many others that share my palate/conclusion. However this adds nothing to this thread.

What I can share that adding 22/24 months new oak on top of one of the most tannic grape on earth (it was mainly used as as dried grape) is not a smart idea. Piling up tannins on tannins rarely makes memorable wines. See what happened in Langa.

I am sure you are aware that Arnaldo Caprai is a historical producer in the area and in the late 70s barrique started to become en vogue (Altare’s trip to Burgundy dates circa 1976 IIRC). Barrique was seen a powerful tool to tame the tannins of the grape. As added bonus you also had a clean ageing vessel, a rarity for that time, especially around Montefalco. What was not foreseen was the long term ageing effect of oak as described above.

The first Sagrantino from Caprai dates around 1979, IIRC. The 25 Anni took another 15 year to see the light, in the early 1990s. Viticulture developed hugely in that period all over Italy and healthier grapes led to better wines. If you were to hand the grape for as long as you did before the result was a super concentrated wine. This is what 25 Anni is: a tannic monster more often than not undrinkable with no expression of the grape. The swing across the whole range towards modern winemaking and new oak happened in the late '80 when Marco Caprai took over the winery (and he also greatly expanded it).

Italy, a country susceptible to fashion, embraced the new wave of big, bold and concentrated wines because they were more approachable of the thin acidic wines that dominated the Italian landscape for 40 years. The Guides were enthusiastic about these wines and pushed them with big score. This was along with RMP rather than after RMP.

These days the pendulum has swung back massively and such wines are rarely consumers domestically and will sell a lot more in export markets. The pushback towards this style has been compounded by the incredible number of indigenous varietals whose characteristics are muted by oak. Nobody bothers with Sassicaia or most of the -aia, you can easily figure out what happens to Caprai’s wines.

Generally speaking in such corporates (because this is what they are) the more interesting wines are not the top cuvees. The more humble wines are clean, generous expressions of what Sagrantino should be.

I would be glad to know your thoughts around this as what I write above is pretty much common knowledge, i.e. I am not adding much to what many people in this forum know already.

Best Regards

P.

P.S. My opinion it may be not humble but it is based on some tastings and experience.

P.P.S. John Morris’ post on Bea OTOH is spot on.

I was introduced to both Bea and Caprai wines when visited Umbria 6 years ago, I love the wines, drank sagrantino every meal when I was there. Hardly drink them these days as they are hard to find in Singapore, nobody bother to import wines made from Sagrantino but count me as a fan.

I’m not going to get involved with this discussion, since I’ve never had upper-end Caprai, but his simple Rosso (which is a blend of sangiovese, sagrantino, and merlot) is not bad for around $20, if a little polished and modern, it still gives a little character of Umbria as a little sangrantino can go a long ways. Bea is, of course, the standard bearer there, and his blends the Pipperella and it’s Riserva are delightful wines to drink while waiting for the Sangrantino’s to cellar ripen (these are the blends of mostly sangiovese, with smaller amounts of montepulciano & sagrantnio).

I’m enamored by some of the Sagrantino wines (100% or mixed) from the region, especially after a couple of visits in the last 6 years. Visiting both Bea’s and Caprai’s wineries, for me, is a most enlightening and welcome exercise in experiencing 2 very divergent philosophies in local winemaking.

A fine version of Bea’s wines remain as my top preferences, so-called variations notwithstanding.

However, I’ve had a few, not much, of Caprai’s 100% Sagrantino (before and after they were labeled as 25 Anni) from vintages 1993 to 2000 that, for my taste, were not as oak-bombed as described. The 1993’s and 1997s truly showed well and that they appear to have integrated whatever ‘excess’ tannin and wood that they may have had. The 2000 was definitely young and very modern in taste, but when I last had it 4 years ago, I don’t recall that the alleged oak was that off-putting.

Picked up a 2008 Pipparello and a 2009 Rosso de Veo by Bea today. Looking forward to trying both. Thanks again for all the feedback!

-KB
www.pearlsandoysters.com

Pierfrancesco:

Thanks for the interesting post and the context you provide for A-c wines. I would love to hear your thoughts on “what Sagrantino should be.”

I have one bottle of the 2001 25 Anni that I will report on soon. Sounds like it may be a polarizing wine.

We did a trip through there a few years ago. Only passed through, but stopped for a couple of hours around Bevagna. Would like to go back and spend more time.