Haute Wines: The Master of the Umbrian Countryside, Paolo Bea

With family heritage dating back to the 1500s, Paolo Bea’s passion for his wine runs as deep as his dedication and love for his family. Having learned his craft from his father, Paolo passes on his knowledge and family traditions to his sons, Giampiero and Giuseppe, as they too grew up tending the vineyards along the lush Umbrian hillsides and currently work side by side with him creating an array of masterfully thought-provoking wines.

Different from most wineries, land, wine and family are inextricably connected. Wine is the end result that literally allows Paolo and his family to cultivate their passion and develop an appreciation for the fruits of their labor. Each member of his family possesses the same deep admiration for the philosophy and respect of nature and it is the combination of this respect for nature, a non-interventionalist approach to wine making and the omission of the usage of small barrels that allows Paolo to articulate the true essence and character of his land, its terroir.

Paolo Bea wines are biodynamically produced. According to him, “…nature should be observed, listened to and integrated, not dominated. Wine is not made by man but generated by nature.” Paolo and his sons operate under the guise that wine is made in the vineyard and therefore feel their main responsibilities are to care for the land and tend to the vines. All of the vines are grown without the use of chemicals or pesticides, are minimally manipulated by the human hand and preclude the use of any stabilizing techniques. They also observe the phases of the moon, include the use natural processes, such as the use of natural yeasts and fertilizers, and practice a devotion to maintaining the native land and the original habitat

These eccentricities have branded Paolo Bea a virtuoso amongst oenophiles and an authority amongst peers. His wines enjoy a cultish following and should always be consumed in the presence of individuals with an open heart and an open mind as they clearly express a unique point of view.

Haute Picks

Santa Chiara, Umbria Bianco, IGT 2007, $55 (Grechetto, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Garganega)

Warning: Not for your pinot grigio drinker. This wine is absolutely delicious! Santa Chiara possesses a deep, golden color as aromas of dry apricots, figs, white flowers, almonds and hazelnuts swirl out of the glass and persist on the palate. Its bright acid structure makes for a fantastic accompaniment to complex  white meat preparations such as “Maialino al Forno” (Roasted Suckling Pig), or simply on its own with a chunk of pecorino tartufato or a few strips of thinly sliced, cured pancetta.

Vigna Pipparello, Montefalco Rosso Riserva, DOC, 2005, $100 (60% Sangiovese, 25% Montepulciano,15% Sagrantino)

Vigna Pipparello, named after its vineyard site, is nothing short of a rock star; larger than life, massive and powerful come to mind.  Picked super late in the season and allowed 42 days of contact with the lees, the grapes yield intense, super ripe dark fruit (plums, cherries, figs, boysenberries), tons of smoke, tar and licorice.  Although it tastes great now, give it a few years and plan a special menu. The thought of “Guancia di Vitello in Umido con Ciliegie” (Braised Veal Cheeks with Cherries) and a plate of soft polenta alongside a glass of Vigna Pipparello is too much to resist.

Please note Paolo Bea wines are very limited in production and therefore difficult to find. If interested in acquiring, visit  www.epicuriouschic.com and they can assist in sourcing these wines.