Vineria Del Carmine featured in Il Forchettiere (article available online in Italian here).
The Vineria del Carmine is located in La Bruna (Perugia), a few hundred metres from the Chiesa del Carmine, a church which dates back to 1270 and was restored by the current English owners Jacqueline and Jeremy Sinclair; seven years after their first grape vintage, this organic farm produces wine under the guidance of Giovanni Dubini, one of the best winemakers in Italy, famous for his renown whites.
On occasion of their first trip to Italy Jacqueline, a book illustrator, and her husband Jeremy, an advertiser, fell in love with the Umbrian hills and Chiesa del Carmine valley; the property is covered in woodlands and has a long tradition of high quality viticulture: in 1974 the well-known American journalist Burton Anderson wrote an article for Wine Spectator on a fine white wine made from land which today falls within the Chiesa del Carmine estate.
After years of thorough reconstruction, the Vineria del Carmine has been restored to its former glory and has become a place where excellent wines are produced again: indigenous varieties like Trebbiano Spoletino can be used to make wines which can compete against the best Italian whites. Trebbiano Spoletino has been grown in Spoleto, Trevi and Montefalco since 1400. The preferred training system for this variety was the “alberata” (tree-lined system) and the vines were married to elm or maple trees and their branches would climb the connection wires that were tied from tree to tree. This system would counteract the effects of frosts and would also guarantee a good sun exposure; however, it made the harvest processes very difficult, since farmers didn’t have modern picking tools and therefore had to use tall ladders to reach the fruit.
A progressive mechanization (started in the Sixties) inevitably resulted in a substitution of the tree-lined system with other more intensive ones and this led Trebbiano Spoletino to a gradual extinction. Nevertheless, the grape was saved and over the past 10 years there has been a growing trend for autochthonous varieties to rediscover throughout Italy and the local Trebbiano Spoletino has been one of the most appreciated grapes in Umbria.
Among the reasons that explain the success of this grape variety are its versatility in winemaking processes, and its resistance to the most common diseases that can affect the vines; its late maturation in the vineyard allows the grapes to maintain a crisp acidity and complex aromas even in the hottest years. Trebbiano Spoletino can be chosen to produce fresh, ready-to-drink wines, but also wines that can age well; moreover, some versions also seem to benefit from long maceration on the skins and a number of winemakers use ceramic tanks or amphoras in following such processes.
The biggest part of the vineyard at the Chiesa del Carmine farm is dedicated to Trebbiano Spoletino (the other grape varieties are Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon). Their work in the fields is uncompromising and respectful of nature and organic farming guidelines are followed in producing the fruit. The yields are low and the picking is done by hand. Their best vintage so far was 2018, considering weather conditions and quality of the fruit.
The Chiesa del Carmine Trebbiano Spoletino 2018 has a vibrant freshness and complex aromas; golden colour, full-bodied, it has notes of lime and quince on the nose. It’s a persistent white, mineral and elegant. Although it would pair well with fish dishes and white meats, the perfect marriage would probably be in combination with local truffle.
The Vineria del Carmine is the wine shop and tasting room where tastings of the wines and organic olive oil from the estate are held. They have an ancient olive grove (about one thousand trees) too and they organise truffle hunts in the forests above the vineyards as well.
In spite of a number of awards that have already been accomplished (for the wine and hospitality structures), further restoration and extension works as well as winemaking experiments keep going at the farm. A brand-new winemaking facility has been installed recently and some new wines (like the Bell’angelo, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sagrantino) have been released, too.