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Details for Antonelli, Grechetto dei Colli Martani

AppellationColli Martani DOC
Antonelli San Marco
(click to find out more)


When it comes to wine, Umbria has long been overshadowed by its famous neighbour to the northwest, Tuscany.  Since the two share similar terrain, climate and cuisine, there would seem to be no good reason for this.  Yet only in recent years has Umbria started to realise its potential.
Orvieto is the best-known Umbrian wine, but this once-famed white has languished for many decades, the victim of DOC regulations that allowed (indeed, mandated) too much of the dull Procanico (Trebbiano Toscano) in the blend.  Recent rule changes are discouraging Procanico in favour of more interesting varieties like the local Grechetto, and Orvieto quality is on the rise.  However, the best examples of the nutty, full-bodied Grechetto are still to be found labelled as IGT Umbria, or from the Colli Martani DOC.
Sangiovese-based reds are good value and can be excellent, as shown by the Torgiano DOCG and the nearby Montefalco Rosso DOC.  Montefalco is, however, better known for its powerful, long-lived wine from the local Sagrantino grape (DOCG since 1993).

Antonelli San Marco

A ridge extends westwards from the dramatic hilltop town of Montefalco, and at the end of it, 4.5km from the medieval walled town, sits Antonelli San Marco.  Its vineyards stretch away downslope to the south and south-west, below the state of the art, gravity-fed winery.
The San Marco estate dates back to medieval times.  Its current boundaries are almost identical to those recorded in the 13th century when it belonged to the Bishop of Spoleto.  In 1881 it was bought by Francesco Antonelli, a wealthy lawyer from Spoleto, who embarked on a program of replanting and modernisation.
A report from 1899 shows that its red wines were well-regarded, but, as was normal in this remote region, they continued to be sold in cask to merchants and local trattorias.  Only in 1979 did the estate begin to bottle and market their own production.  Fifth-generation Filippo Antonelli is now at the helm and has converted the estate to organic viticulture, with 2012 the first vintage to achieve organic certification.
This is the heart of the Sagrantino de Montefalco DOCG, and Antonelli produce a range of these powerful, long-lived reds including a single vineyard wine and a traditional sweet passito.  There is also a Sangiovese-based Montefalco Rosso DOC and occasionally a Riserva.  Though this is very much red wine country they produce two highly-regarded whites: one from Grechetto and the other from the rare local speciality Trebbiano Spoletino.

about this wine About this wine

Yes, all right.  Before anyone writes in, I do know that when Juliet declaims, “wherefore art thou Romeo”, she isn't asking where he is, but why he happens to be called Romeo.  But all the other parodies of that famous line use the incorrect meaning, so I beg your indulgence.  If you do want to know why Grechetto is called Grechetto, you can read the probable answer here.
Green and landlocked Umbria lies southeast of Tuscany, and shares much the same landscape and climate.  Yet while Tuscan wines are the most famous in Italy, Umbria’s are little-known.  The region lacked the grand aristocratic estates that drove the development and repution of Tuscan wines, but its potential is now beginning to be realised.
This wine comes from all-organic producer Antonelli San Marco, whose vineyards lie in the heart of Umbria’s most respected DOC, Montefalco.  However, the Montefalco DOC applies only to red wine, so it can’t be used for this one.  Whites from the area use the Colli Martani DOC, which encompasses Montefalco but includes some additional land to the west and south.
Unusually for Italy, much Colli Martani is varietally labelled, with the name of the grape variety appearing on the label as part of the DOC name.  It is probably the only DOC in Italy to distinguish between the two kinds of Grechetto, which have only recently been determined to be separate varieties.  Since this one doesn’t call itself a Colli Martani Grechetto di Todi DOC, it must be made from the other Grechetto, whose full title is Grechetto di Orvieto and is regarded as the best Umbrian white grape.
Like all Antonelli wines this one was hand-picked, with the 2015 harvest occurring during the third week of September.  The grapes were gently pressed using a pneumatic press, in which a long rubber sausage inflates inside a metal cylinder, squashing the grapes against its perforated sides.  This avoids damage to the bitter-tasting pips and minimises the extraction of tannins from Grechetto’s thick skins.
The juice was allowed to clarify naturally at low temperature before being run off into stainless steel tanks and fermented at a temperature-controlled 18°C.  This is on the warm side for whites, being typical for a full-bodied variety like Chardonnay rather than for a lighter, aromatic variety such as Sauvignon Blanc.
After fermentation the wine was aged on its fine lees (the dead yeast cells left over after fermentation) for three months, again in stainless steel tanks.  Lees-aging adds complexity and a creamy or stony texture to the finished wine.  After bottling it was then aged a further three months before release.

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