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Chef's choice! Sagrantino di Montefalco

We recently noticed an article in the Sunday Times with some of Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli’s favourite things in life, which included a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco from a fantastic producer Paulo Bea. We have to agree that there is no finer choice! This is a pretty special bottle of wine – inky black, layers of lush fruit and deliciously savoury earthiness. Sagrantino as a grape has some of the highest levels of tannin, so requires a minimum of 30 months ageing in barrel or vat prior to selling, which contributes to its high price. But boy, is it worth it! You can also buy a fantastic passito dessert wine made from the dried grapes - a bottle of that and some gorgonzola sounds heaven to me.

Sagrantino di Montefalco really is one of the jewels in the crown of Italian wine making, even if it is sometimes overshadowed by Barolo, Chianti and some of the more recognisable names. It comes from a small town nestled within the hills of central Umbria. The vines grow in sort of bowl created by the Apennine Mountain, which creates perfect conditions for the grape to ripen with plenty of sweet fruit flavours to balance out its naturally high tannins. Amongst the wines of Montefalco, Paulo Bea makes some of the best – using Natural methods of viticulture on their tiny farm estate, which has been in the family for generations. A true non-interventionalist, he believes that "nature should be observed, heard and understood - not dominated", thus his wines are a depiction of the year from which they came. Pagliaro is his signature wine, which sums up the traditions of this historic wine in a single glass. Certainly not a bottle for every day drinking (if only!), but a wine to be truly savoured with that special someone, in front of the fire with some roasted pheasant, or truffle infused pecorino cheese.

So here’s to you Giorgio, and to Paulo!