References in the archives of Montefalco, the beautiful hill town in Umbria, document the presence of the Bea family in this locality as early as 1500. This tiny estate is the classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables. To this day, the Bea family raises and produces much of what they consume on a daily basis. Paolo Bea, the senior member of the family, is the guiding force behind the production of this series of intense and idiosyncratic wines. He is assisted by his two sons, Giuseppe, who farms the vineyards, and Giampiero, who assists in the vinification and is responsible for all commercial aspects of the winery.
The entire property encompasses 15 hectares: 5 of which are dedicated to the vineyards, 2 to olives, and the remainder to the fruits, vegetables and grains that are grown. Sagrantino is the predominant grape, covering 60% of the vineyard surface. The remaining 40% is planted to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with a small parcel planted to several white varieties. The vineyards are cultivated organically, all grapes are harvested manually and all wines are bottled without fining or filtration.
This wine is sourced from the San Valentino vineyard in Montefalco the soil of which is dominated by clay. The vineyard is at 1300 feet altitude. The composition of the Montefalco Rosso is 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Montepulciano, all from a 50-year old vineyard containing the constituent grapes. Harvest usually occurs in the final ten days of October. Bea puts all the dry reds through extensive cuvaison. In this instance, the wine usually macerates for approximately 30 days before being racked and prepared for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 3 years in stainless steel and an additional 4 to 12 months in bottle before release.
The Pipparello vineyard is a hilltop site in Montefalco at 1300 feet above sea level. The soil is clay and gravel. The vines in the Pipparello vineyard are a minimum of 20 years old. Harvest takes place normally during the middle of October. The ultimate wine is a blend of roughly 60% Sangiovese, 25% Montepulciano and 15% Sagrantino. The cuvaison extends for a period between 40 to 50 days. After the alcoholic fermentation this wine spends a year in stainless steel tanks and then two years in large oak barrels and is released after an additional year of bottle-aging
The family has owned a parcel in Cerrete, the highest-altitude vineyard in Montefalco, for some time, but it wasn’t until the 2007 vintage that Giampiero deemed the vines old enough to do justice to the cru’s potential. With its poor, mineral-rich soils and its acidity-preserving altitude (450 to 500 meters), Cerrete yields a wine not more powerful than Bea’s other pure-Sagrantino titan “Pagliaro,” but with greater nuance and a finer expression of detail. In acknowledgment of its stature, Giampiero gives it an additional year in large Slavonian oak, making for an astonishing five-year stint in barrel before the requisite long resting period in bottle. In line with Bea’s other 2012s, this Cerrete evokes autumn in its warmly spicy nose, its notes of fresh tobacco and moist soil, and its mellow, caressing fruit character. The greatness of the site expresses itself in a level of finesse that Bea’s other wines, magnificent though they are, cannot quite attain.