Right in these days, when the Anteprima (the Previews of the Italian wines) are going on such as the just closed Anteprima Sagrantino in Umbria, I am happy to write about an Umbrian producer. A younger actor within the regional production community who managed, however, to best interpret a territory as fascinating as, at times, mysterious. But perhaps it is precisely those who have wandered between different places and professional fields that often manage to have a clear picture to carry out such a focused and complete project.
After years of corporate management, Peter Heilbron, now owner of Tenuta Bellafonte, falls in love with wine launching his career in the wine business in 2007 after having discovered the unique personality of the local black grape ‘Sagrantino’ on whose production he concentrated exclusively for 6 years, with a total dedication: the only possible way to excellence. The keyword is “respect”: for the territory, the grapes and the consumer; the transformation must never affect the essence of a product. Today he works on about 11 hectares surrounded by woods and olive groves in the aim of biodiversity.
His Sagrantino, the powerful red of Umbria region in central Italy, is produced with low yields, short pruning, manual harvesting aimed at the best selection of bunches that have homogeneous ripening. This is followed by destemming and fermentation with whole berries; fermentation takes place in steel with indigenous yeasts before the maturation in large Slavonian barrels (50 Hl), slightly or not toasted, for at least 3 years. The result is amazing in terms of elegance. “Collenottolo” Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG takes on all the nuances that the vintage can offer and between 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011 vintages I particularly loved 2012. Well-developed nose with aromas of ripe red berries, leather, kirsch and cinnamon. Dense on the palate, excellent balance between acidity, tannins and fruit concentration, very long finish with flavours in harmony with aromas. The ageing potential is extremely high.
Since 2013 he begins to think about completing the line with whites and especially Trebbiano Spoletino seems to respond to his demanding attitude. There are two labels: “Sperella” Montefalco Bianco DOC (spontaneous fermentation, only stainless steel tanks, on lees for some months, malolactic fermentation, unfiltered): ripe citrus with an almost a tropical touch, consistent with the taste: lively with good concentration; then “Arneto” Trebbiano Spoletino IGT (after a short maceration on skins is transferred into wooden barrels where it also undergoes malolactic fermentation naturally and remains on lees for a few months; the acidity is guaranteed by 10/20% of grapes harvested slightly in advance). Ripe fruit notes on the nose which offers an excellent balance between candied citrus (cedar) and white peach, officinal herbs, rocky hints and walnut. Excellent texture on the palate, savoury, full and round. Great harmony.
The more recent history leads us to the better-known black grape of central Italy: Sangiovese, used by Peter for the production a red wine that is complementary to Sagrantino: a fine and frank red wine. “Pomontino” (Montefalco Rosso DOC 2017) is a delicious wine with welcoming scents of raspberry, slate and paprika. On the palate it is more austere, dry, a coherent and subtle wine although of medium structure.
What’s more, when I wrote “project” I meant that Bellafonte is more than a winery thanks to wine tourism offer perfectly integrated into the Umbrian territory, so coveted by those looking for nature, relaxation and good food. The search for details is combined with the conviviality atmosphere of the refined environments. See you in Umbria!