New Vintages of Paolo Bea
Paolo Bea is one of those names that almost that has almost become a secret code in the wine consumers world. Not for the un-savvy shopper. Those who speak about it are normally avid collectors who appreciate great values. And while Paolo Bea is not cheap, for what it can do in the cellar over time, there is literally nothing like it. Speaking personally, I have only tried one older one before from 2001 that was still so young; the tannins hit the brakes on my palate as if I came to a red light with a group of school children crossing the street. It had barely aged a day. The strange thing is that many people still don't know what these wines are capable of, since the amount of pre-2000 that exists in the U.S. is very slim and not many have claimed a taste.
- 10% off any 12
- Wines to Arrive in 2 Weeks
- The new vintages of Rosso de Veo and Pipparello will be available in the Fall
Special Newsletter Price: $64.99
One of the early success stories in the modern-day revival of skin-macerated white wines, Bea’s beloved “Arboreus” originates from exceedingly old Trebbiano vines (up to 150 years of age) in the village of Spoleto, halfway between Bea’s home village of Montefalco and nearby Trevi. A striking instance of non-standard training, these ancient vines wrap themselves around the trunks and branches of trees (hence the wine’s name), growing and ripening high above the ground. Bea picks the fruit quite ripe, and conducts an extended skin maceration (in the case of the 2012, 23 days), after which he leaves the wine on its gross lees for the better part of a year—a technique that nourishes the wine and ensures its ultimate expressive depth, but one which requires supreme confidence in the quality of one’s raw materials. Whereas, the 2011 was lavish and opulent, this 2012 cuts a leaner figure, with a dazzling nose of marzipan, fresh apricot, gunflint, and Indian spices—not a far cry from the coveted and cultish Trebbiano from the Valentini clan in Abruzzo, in fact. The palate is chiseled, markedly tannic (though well-balanced), and driven by resonant acidity, with the marzipan and apricot notes echoing strongly. The 2012 is perhaps the most poised and focused version of this wine we have yet seen, and the fact that it arose from such a challengingly hot vintage is testament to Giampiero’s mastery of craft. “Arboreus” must be served no cooler than cellar temperature to appreciate its full spectrum of aromas and flavors.
2012 Paolo Bea San Valentino Rosso
Special Newsletter Price: $44.99
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. Like the “Arboreus” above, the 2012 “San Valentino” is remarkably poised given its ripe-vintage origins. A blend of 70% Sangiovese with 15% each Sagrantino and Montepulciano, it spent a lengthy 38 days on its skins, and ended up a modest 13.5% alcohol. While Sagrantino even in such a small proportion can sometimes dominate the nose (especially in the wine’s youth), Sangiovese drives the 2012, with a smoky savory note (imagine the most perfect beef bouillon) and a plethora of exotic spices. Giampiero’s refusal to regulate temperature and his predilection for long ageing and minimal sulfur means that his wines sometimes walk the tightrope when it comes to volatile acidity—though only very rarely do they fall off. Indeed, this 2012 displays the barest trace, and one that complements the wine’s density remarkably well. This is a gorgeous, superbly balanced “San Valentino,” and while “velvety” isn’t a part of the Bea adjectival realm, this is strikingly elegant and accessible.
2012 Paolo Bea Sagnrantino di Montefalco Rosso
Special Newsletter Price: $94.99
Bea produces perhaps his most renowned wine from pure Sagrantino grown on the prized hilltop site of “Pagliaro,” situated at 1300 feet above sea level in Montefalco proper. In keeping with the wines above, this vintage of “Pagliaro” maintains equilibrium and freshness in the face of its scorching season of origin. Sagrantino’s fruit character can sometimes be midnight-black, but the 2012 hints at cherry liqueur, offering a bit of brightness amidst the usual spicy savagery. An autumnal spirit permeates the wine, with aromas and flavors of fallen leaves, fresh pipe tobacco, and woodsmoke. “Pagliaro” is never light and never polite, but the tannins on this 2012 manage to be digestible and balanced—although there is enough structure to reward some cellaring, to be sure. Fresh and dried, all laced with a balsamic undertone; black licorice and warm spice cake; and stem-influenced, wispy, almost herbal notes which counterbalance the wine’s bottomless depth. Somehow, amidst all of this, a sense of restraint emerges—shocking to behold in a wine that exceeds 15% alcohol, but Bea’s wines are always rife with happy contradictions. This is a bold, riotous, flashy vintage of “Pagliaro” that will surely stun all those who cross its path.
2007 Paolo Bea Passito
Special Newsletter Price: $92.99
Bea’s super-rare and mind-bendingly complex passito comes from pure Sagrantino harvested at a high brix level and left to dry on straw mats completely naturally in the upper level of his grand winery, with no artificial temperature control and no additions whatsoever. After several months of drying, the bunches are destemmed and crushed, and fermentation skulks along until the sugar levels reach 16% to 18%, at which point an infinitesimal amount of juice is pressed forth from the ultra-shriveled berries. The final product carries around 100 grams per liter of residual sugar and delivers a visceral blast of pure Sagrantino essence: spice cake, cured tobacco leaves, peppery black fruits, old leather, and a deep sense of umami. Always released after a significant amount of aging (thereby increasing its already stunning complexity), it’s an idiosyncratic, deeply enveloping wine that feels like a message from another era.
(500ml) 2018 Grezzo Umbrian Olive Oil
Special Newsletter Price: $48.99
Insanely amazing, fresh olive oil that is the best I've ever had!