Crimson red plots of Sagrantino visible from the Fongoli vineyards. Photo credit: Amy Ezrin (Massanois).

The Focused wines of Fongoli!

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Last fall we were graced by a visit from Angelo and Letizia of Azienda Fongoli and I came away from the experience deeply impressed. Not only were they lovely people who were excellent communicators about their land and their philosophy, but their wines were absolutely wonderful. The estate was founded in 1927 by Decio Fongoli Calvani and has passed down through three generations to Angelo and his sister Simona. However, the wines fit in with a new generation of winegrowers in Italy who are focused not just on quality, but on organic farming and non-interventionist wine making.

Sagrantino leaves turn deep red when ripe.
Credit: Amy Ezrin (Massanois).

Instead of serving as a marketing tactic, they make the point of differentiating their farming as truly organic, conducted with the best interest of the land in mind. Just under half of the property is reserved for oak forests and other un-tamed areas, and native grasses are grown between the rows of vines as opposed to cultivated cover crops. The only fertilizer utilized is manure, and nothing but copper and sulfur are used to combat odium and rot. In addition to healthy soils, this leads to a natural reduction in yields, resulting in concentrated fruit without the need for aggressive pruning.

The approach in the winery is shaped to show the character of the grape at hand. Native yeasts are used for all fermentations and malolactic fermentation occurs naturally during long elevage in wood. The barrels in the cellar are primarily large Slavonian oak and range in age from 5 to 40 years old. The old barrels used are key: they are needed to soften the tannic structure of Sagrantino through gentle oxygenation instead of adding astringency that new oak can convey. The local Trebbiano Spoletino used for the whites is distinct from Trebbiano Toscano (known best for its bright acidity and high yields); Trebbiano Spoletino produces wine with a richer texture and more overt orchard fruit. For the second vintage in a row, they produced a skin contact wine to showcase these traits. Beginning with the 2011 vintage they have expanded the number of wines produced without added sulfur, including the Trebbiano in today's offer.

The care given to the farming and production of these wines shows in the glass. The Trebbiano Maceratum is unctuous with a focus and purity uncommon for a wine made entirely without added sulfur. The Montefalco Rosso is a delicious fruit-forward wine with a slight tannic kick from a small percentage of Sagrantino in the blend. Rather than being over-bearing, their Sagrantino conveys a sense of elegance and restraint uncommon from such a tannic grape. The wines of Fongoli are all vibrant, living examples of the grapes at hand, showcasing some of the unique varieties of Umbria. Andy Paynter

Fongoli 2016 Umbria Trebbiano Maceratum

Fongoli’s Maceratum is a wine that is endlessly exciting to me. Made from Trebbiano Spoletino, as opposed to the much more common Trebbiano Toscano, the Maceratum is a complex orange wine that shows depth but maintains lift and freshness. Harvested in late October, when the grapes have ripened fully, the must is fermented in open vats on the skins for 10 days with daily punch downs to keep the cap moist and gently extract color. The resulting wine is a deep copper color with a spicy nose showing apricots, preserved lemon, and fresh oranges with a touch of dry hay. The palate comes through with tart golden apples, yellow peaches, and more apricots layered over present ripe tannins and braced by bright acidity. The finish is persistant and quite mineral with refreshing lingering fruit. The structure of this wine lends it to carefree food pairing: try it with shrimp risotto, braised pork with baked apples, grilled peaches, washed rind cheese, or whole fish finished with spicy chutney.  Andy Paynter

  • white
  • 12 in stock
  • $29.99

  • Organic
  • No Sulfur
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Fongoli 2014 Montefalco Rosso

Fongoli’s Montefalco Rosso is a great example of an Italian table wine in the best sense. Made mostly from Sangiovese, Sagrantino, and Montepulciano, vinified separately and raised for 18 months in 40 hectoliter Slavonian oak barrels. Fresh red cherry fruit comes through on the nose with pleasant notes of rosemary and thyme and a hint of moist earth. The palate is full and smooth with noticeable tannin and good acidity, though it is more overtly fruity showing both cherries and a touch of blue and black berries. The pairing choices are endless: try it with meaty pasta dishes, roast chicken, pork loin, mushroom and Parmesan risotto, and hard cheeses. A beautiful wine for any table! Andy Paynter

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $18.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur

Fongoli 2009 Sagrantino di Montefalco Fracanton

In my experience, the Sagrantino grape can produce some fairly stern, even forbidding, wines; the naturally very high tannins can seem unwieldy. That's not the case with Fongoli’s 2009 Sagrantino di Montefalco. As fourth generation winemakers working with Umbria’s fiercest red grape, they have made a wine more elegant than unwieldy. The wine is fermented in cement, raised in old 500L Slavonian oak barrels for three years, bottled unfined and unfiltered, and then rested for an additional three years. Rich on the nose with deep hedge fruits tinged by aromas of bay and cedar, floral notes of violets and rose, it also conveys a ferrous quality. The palate is full and structured but the tannins are ripe and round, mellowed by age and long passage in barrel.  The berry aromas suggested on the nose follow through on the palate braced by earthy notes with a pleasant hint of anise on the finish. Drinking well now (Angelo advised it will be best with 3-4 hours open), this wine will certainly have a long life ahead of it. Serve with grilled steak, pork chops in wine sauce, rich game dishes, or charcuterie. Andy Paynter

  • Out of Stock
  • red
  • 0 in stock
  • $69.99

  • Organic
  • Low Sulfur