with Shelved Wine Sommelier

Shelved Wine’s journey to travelling Italy starts in Umbria, with the Umbrian Wines. Let’s find out together which wine carats every region of Italy. Surely we will find many differences, even significant, from one area to another.
Our trip will touch all the regions so you will have a real and accurate picture of the Italian gastronomic level.
Travelling Italy with Shelved Wine!

Today I will write about Umbria, also known as the “green lung of Italy”. It bases its traditions on great wines, excellent cuisine, a breathtaking landscape and millennial history. Do the names of Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio and Spoleto tell you something?

Umbria is located in the centre of Italy and is one of the few regions that have no outlet on the sea. Maybe it is the only defect because, for the rest, Umbria impresses with its scenic artistic and environmental beauties.
Umbrian Wines are not so popular yet, while some gourmet specialities, such as Norcia Ham, black truffle and dark chocolate from Perugia.


If you are in Umbria, I suggest you to start visiting the artistic heart of Perugia. Walk between its alleys and beauties. Then, don’t miss to visit Assisi, majestic and spiritual city, full of beautiful cathedrals.
You can continue your trip across the unique and uncontaminated landscapes towards Gubbio. Or on the way between Spoleto and Norcia, crossing the Montefalco vineyards.

Every corner of Umbria has peculiarities and uniqueness that deserve to be visited. Great valleys crossed by rivers, no tall mountain but villages and castles clambered to the tops of the hills to control the underlying landscape in the valleys.

The history of Umbria begins many centuries ago when the link with the Christianity was strong and steady. Think about the high number of monasteries, abbeys and ancient libraries that guard many secrets and antiquities of Religion.
Umbria has been set in the middle of Italy for centuries, far from ports and contaminations, allowing to grow traditions, cultures and gastronomic recipes that have been handed down to this day.



Travelling Italy - Umbrian Wines
Travelling Italy – Assisi and Cathedral. Photo by Umbria Notizie Web



The Umbrian wines begin to become popular in the 1960s. Before, Umbrian wines were customary to enhance the wines of the neighbouring regions, most of all from Tuscany and Lazio.
Contaminations with the other regions created a great variety of vines in Umbria, such as the Sangiovese arrived from Tuscany, or the Sagrantino, the real soul of the region.

There are two GREAT MACROZONES in Umbria, different for location, soil and sun exposure.

THE FIRST ONE is destined to the production of fine and bodied red wines, around Montefalco, Torgiano and Colli Perugini. The most planted vines are Sangiovese and Sagrantino. This area is in the centre of Umbria, not far from Perugia. The soils are mostly clayey, ideal for the production of fine red, with good ageing potential.

THE SECOND AREA, destined to white and noble-rot wines, is the land around Orvieto, where Chardonnay and Grechetto give the best of themselves. The area is the South of Umbria, wedging between Tuscany and Lazio. There, the soil is rich in tuff and volcanic residues that give birth to minerality and sapidity.
Of course, the variety of Umbrian wines does not end there. There are other smaller areas. For example, next to Lake Trasimeno, where Gamay has found its ideal place since the nineteenth century.

Another historic area of Umbria is the Upper Tiberina Valley, developed around the Tiber River. It is an ancient area, already mentioned in the works of Pliny the Elder. You can find several red and white grapes, both native or international.



King of the Umbrian wines, the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG. The Montefalco area is the pulsating heart of the region, with a long tradition of winery begun even by Benedictine monks.

Sagrantino is a vine that matures late, and for this reason, it is also suitable for becomes dessert wines. From the Seventies, the Sagrantino popularity increased, and today is part of the most celebrated Italian wines.

The Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG must be refined for at least 33 months, including 12 in wooden barrels. Only high-quality grapes can support such refinement.
The result is an outstanding wine, powerful, with an amazing ageing potential that will give quality expressions for decades. If you drink a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco, I’m sure that you will remember it for a long, long time. You will find a great selection of Sagrantino di Montefalco on Shelved Wine.


Travelling Italy - Umbrian Wines
Travelling Italy – Tenuta Castelnuovo in Montefalco. Photo by

The Tuscan contamination brought Sangiovese to the Umbrian territory, where it became the protagonist of the Torgiano’s area. There, the soil is similar to the Tuscan one, rich in clay and silt, the perfect habitat for Sangiovese. The percentage of Sangiovese in Torgiano wines is at least 70%.

The wines produced in the area have an austere structure, suitable for extended refinements. Also, the Torgiano Rosso Riserva shows great elegance and sophistication, as many Sangiovese-based wines.
In Torgiano’s area, the climate is mild, with good sun exposure, and strong thermal excursions. Surely Rosso di Torgiano Riserva is the gentleman of Umbria!

It is the macrozone that you can find in the South-West of Perugia. To make a Torgiano DOC, the vines used are varied, both native and international.
Trebbiano, Grechetto and Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Grigio for white wines, while Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Pinot Nero for red wines.

Do not joke when talking about Orvieto wines. Umbria is known for its great red wines, and half of these come from the Orvieto area, which is located on the border with Lazio. In fact, the denomination Orvieto DOC includes both the two regions. Not only red wines but also extraordinary whites come from the Orvieto area.
Orvieto area gives birth to Noble-Rot wines as well, produced with grapes stuck by Botrytis Cinerea. The resulting wines have a great personality, they develop ample evolutionary scents. Don’t miss to taste one of those in combination with extra-aged cheeses.

The area next to a lake has a mild and windy climate, with a positive impact on the surrounding vineyards. The hills at the edge of the lake allow good sun exposure which, combined with the evaporation of the lake, creates favourable heat ripples.
Gamay is the vine that best represents the area. It becomes a velvety wine, tasty and salty, with a respectful tannins structure.

Travelling to Italy - Umbrian Wines
Montefalco Vineyards. Picture by


Considering that Umbria produces culinary treasures, it is impossible to me not to write something about wine-pairing. Are you interested? I think so, and now I’ll give you some hints to follow.

MONTEFALCO DOCG SAGRANTINO: pair it wild boar stew, roasted lamb and aged cheese, such as Pecorino.

TORGIANO ROSSO RISERVA DOCG: in combination with recipes game-based, such as roasted pigeon and stew pigeon, and with creamy blue cheeses.

ORVIETO DOC: pasta served with boiled beans will be amazing next to a glass of Orvieto DOC, as well as Norcia Ham, black truffle tagliolini, and boar. Orvieto DOC Noble-Rot version achieves the best match with cheeses.

GAMAY FROM THE TRASIMENO LAKE: ideal for Mortadella and Umbrian cold cuts, such as porchetta, a kind of fatty pork roast typical of the culinary tradition. Excellent also with pasta and tomato game ragout.

The trip to Umbria is over. See you in the next region.
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