Lying on the border of Tuscany and Umbria, in the hills surrounding the majestic Lago di Trasimeno, sits the family winery Madrevite. The passion of the Chiucchiurlotto family for nearly 60 years, the estate is now run by third generation winemaker Nicola. Embracing natural processes and hand crafted techniques, Nicola expresses his family’s philosophy perfectly in this statement.
“The land teaches constancy, because it requires daily care. It teaches scrupulousness, because it cannot stand sloppy and superficial work. Trust, because the harvest does not always correspond to your expectations. Collaboration, because it requires many hands and many arms. It teaches humility and sharing, because it is the common good for excellence.”
I have been fortunate to spend quite a bit of time in the small village of Castiglione del Lago. This small Umbrian village sits on a promontory that juts into the western edge of Lago di Trasimeno. The town is anchored by the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena at one end and the town’s Fortezza at the other. In the center of the town’s two main streets is the expansive piazza filled with cafes, trattorie and various shops. Yet with all the browsing of merchants selling delicacies laden with truffles, wines and oils, I never stumbled upon the wines of Madrevite.
Today, Madrevite is a fully functioning farm. In addition to wine crafted from its 60 hectares of vineyards, the family cultivates 1,200 olive trees, 15,000 kilos of cereals, 6,000 kilos of legumes and 1,500 kilos of the famed fagiolina; the multi-colored legume first cultivated in Western Umbria as far back as the third century BC. I have not had the opportunity (yet) to make these wonderful Fagiolina, but thankfully I cannot say the same about Nicola’s wines.
The first wine we tasted was a pure Montepulciano from the Il Macchiolo vineyard. Sitting at 320 meters above sea level, the average age of the vines in this vineyard is 15 years. The soil here is mainly clay which lends a little more machismo to this Montepulciano than one might expect.
The 2013 Madrevite Capofoco is 100% Montepulciano that is aged 12 months in French barrique and 12 months in bottle before release. In the glass, the wine is an inky purple with violet reflections. Black plums, toasted vanilla, sweet tobacco notes and warmed clay dot the nose of this intriguing Montepulciano. On the palate, the wine is round and forward with flavors of plum, vanilla, cypress pine and rosemary. Attractive, with good length and moderate tannins which hint that short term aging might yield some interesting results. 89 points. About $23. Find this wine.
I expected this next wine to be light and reminiscent of Gamay or even Dolcetto. Boy, was I wrong. As my friend Sebastiano would say: “questo vino con i coglioni!” The 2017 Madrevite C’osa is 100% Gamay del Trasimeno. After 6 months aging in concrete and 12 months in French barrique, the wine continues to age in bottle for an additional year. This is fruit forward and persistent with spicy flavors of blackberry, black plum, pepper and vanilla. Medium weight tannins are present but not obtrusive. Finishes bright and spicy with hints of licorice and toast. With only 1,000 bottles produced, the price reflects the scarcity. 88 points. About $30 Find this wine.
Finally, we got to the wine I was most excited to try. Although Umbria isn’t known for Syrah, the area of Lago di Trasimeno is directly across the border from Cortona so the general terroir is similar. That said, this wine doesn’t quite rise to the level of its Tuscan cousins, but that really isn’t a criticism. The vines are on the younger side (12-15 years) and I believe this bottling has a bright future ahead.
The 2013 Madrevite Che Syrah Sara is a deep purple color with violet lasers throughout. From southwest facing vineyards at 325 meters above sea level, this displays a wonderful level of freshness. On the nose, the black plum, blackberry, roasted coffee, pepper and toasted spice notes are notable and attractive. On the palate, this full bodied Syrah is wonderfully precise with its black fruit notes, vanilla and stony, flinty mineral tones. Round and viscous, this paired exceptionally well with the ribeyes in the picture. Very enjoyable. 92 points. About $30 Find this wine.
As I was researching for this article, I presumed “Madrevite” was some form of derivative meaning “Mother Life” or “Mother Nature” perhaps in a more colloquial sense. Again, I was wrong! So, what does Madrevite mean? Nicola tells….
“The Madrevite is an ancient tool used in the cellar by Umbrian winemakers in the past to fix the escapole to barrels full of wine. A link with the past and traditions that, combined with modern agronomic and cellar practices, constitutes the true essence of our small production.”
Grazie Nicola, e Salute Amici…… Have some of these wines in you cellar? Try pairing them with this regional recipe: Umbrian Ragu.