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Country of Origin: Italy
Location: Montefalco, Umbria
People: Paolo Bea & Family, Owners | Giampiero Bea, Winemaker
Viticulture: Practicing Biodynamic
References in the archives of Montefalco, the beautiful hill town in Umbria, document the presence of the Bea family in this locality as early as 1500. This tiny estate is the classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables. To this day, the Bea family raises and produces much of what they consume on a daily basis. Paolo Bea, the senior member of the family, is the guiding force behind the production of this series of intense and idiosyncratic wines. He is assisted by his two sons, Giuseppe, who farms the vineyards, and Giampiero, who assists in the vinification and is responsible for all commercial aspects of the winery.
The entire property encompasses 15 hectares: 5 of which are dedicated to the vineyards, 2 to olives, and the remainder to the fruits, vegetables and grains that are grown. Sagrantino is the predominant grape, covering 60% of the vineyard surface. The remaining 40% is planted to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with a small parcel planted to several white varieties. The vineyards are cultivated organically, all grapes are harvested manually and all wines are bottled without fining or filtration.
From Paolo Bea, owner and winemaker:
"As a child, I learned this craft from my father. Our history and tradition is the source of our knowledge and inspiration. Today, my family is here with me, all working together. Our roots in Montefalco trace back to the 1500's, as documents in the village archives attest to. Through passion sustained and encouraged by my sons, Giuseppe and Giampiero, and also by the irreplaceable presence of Marina, my wife and mother of my children, our family has come to appreciate each other in more profound ways, each day relishing the fruits of our labor at our table. With each passing year, I better understand our land, respecting and caring for it... and at the end of each year extract from it a wine which is totally unique, continually developing, improving, and sustaining our health. With an ever growing conviction, we practice, discover, and appreciate natural winemaking methods that exclude the use of chemicals in the vineyard and artificial stabilizing techniques in the winery. Each season is a new discovery, a chance to apply and evaluate knowledge we have gained in previous years. "
"Giampiero and Giuseppe Bea continue to work their five hectares of vineyards by hand, choosing to use only one-third of their 15-hectare property for grape production even though they could easily continue planting to expand. Their vineyards occupy the higher elevations of Montefalco terroir, reaching up to 500 meters above sea level. The Beas don't label themselves organic or biodynamic; they simply farm the way their family did long before herbicides and pesticides were developed, depending on biodiversity and Mother Nature's fertilizers to deliver a transparent representation of each vintage. In the winery, gentle macerations and slow fermentations can last from three weeks to as many as seven before the wine is placed into steel tanks for a year to rest. For the bigger reds, this is followed by refinement in large Slavonian oak for up to three years. At this point, the wines are bottled without filtration and little, if any, added sulfur, and then left to rest for another year or more. Giampiero Bea will tell you that he sells his wines when they are 'ready,' but when dealing with a grape as naturally high in tannin as Sagrantino, you have to take that with a grain of salt."
Sprudge: Giampiero Bea of Paolo Bea: The Sprudge Wine Interview
Wine Advocate: Italy, Umbria: Paolo Bea
Grape Collective: Paolo Bea's Extreme-Artisanal Wines
Occasional Thoughts: 2008 Arboreus - Grapes DO grow on Trees