These two regions, separated by a good distance (then why are you grouping them, Tim?), produce less well-known wines than say Chianti or Barolo – unless you’re a Lambrusco fan! That said, there’s still a fair amount of very good quality wine being produced here, even if the majority of their wines are destined for supermarket-grade bottles (or boxes, etc.).
True foodies that have yet to visit the towns of Bologna, or Modena, or Parma, or Reggiano, are missing out. Like, really missing out. In addition to the great, no, tremendous, foods/dishes that can be found here, there’s a lot of interesting history and architecture, too. One of my favorite places to pass some time is within the walled city of Modena; after you’re done visiting there, hop in the car and in 30 minutes or less you’re in Spilamberto, where you’ll find the fascinating Museo del Balsamico Tradizionale, where you’ll learn all you ever wanted to know about Balsamic Vinegar. And who doesn’t love Balsamic vinegar?
Umbria is really what I’d call in the center, not the North, per se, though not the South, either. But, for convenience, I’ve listed the region in ‘The North’, please forgive me if you disagree with this categorization.
With that out of the way, those that wish to know more about Montefalco, and its wines, will find a good frequency of reviews and posts on this blog. It’s my personal belief that many of the Sangiovese wines of this area are quite understated, too, which is to say, there’s a lot here to admire, if you know where to look. The wines of Paolo Bea (and now Giampiero has his own label, too) are among my favorite in the world; I go out of my way, frequently, just to visit.
It would be impossible to forgo mentioning the town of Montefalco without also mentioning the Sagrantino variety. As with most varieties, this wine can soar to great heights, though most are just in the middle; I’ve really not found much/any on the very low-end of the scale.
Some good whites come from this region, too, but most are just quaffing wines, which is fine, as long as they’re well-grown quaffing wines, and wines that remain true to the variety/blend and place (i.e. no use of excessive oak, gratuitous use of international varieties, etc.).
The hills here are less pronounced, than say the undulating, sweeping and vast spaces in much of Tuscany. The wines here, too, are, on balance, less pronounced, I suppose. In addition, I plan to go (well) beyond the Orvieto and Greccheto whites, and the Sagrantino and Torgiano reds – the low-hanging fruit, as it were (pun intended!).
(photo: taken in the oldest part of the cellars at Cascina Chicco, in Roero, Italy, these are a part of the family’s personal stash!)