The other week, I had dinner with the lovely Chiara Lungarotti and Frank de Falco, at Felidia Ristorante–home of the Wine Media Guild Luncheons–on the Upper East Side. Just in from Toronto, via Boston, Chiara was at the tale end of a twenty hour day, sharing six of her recent wines. Landlocked in Umbria, Chiara owns the family-run Cantine Lungarotti, which transformed from bulk-wine production to estate bottlings, under the guidance of her father, Giorgio Lungarotti in the late 1960’s.
The first two wines that came from this transformation–Torre di Giano and Torgiano Rosso–became Umbria’s first DOC appellations. And according to The World Atlas of Wine by H. Johnson and J. Robinson, “…Dr. Giorgio Lungarotti…was the first in modern times to prove, in the late 1970’s, that Umbria could make red wine as good as Tuscany’s, and even to explore what might be called Super Umbrians.”
Since then, over the course of 10-15 years, the winery has undergone some generational changes, including replantation, reorganization, the implementation of temperature control, and the commitment to using organic fertilizers in place of chemical herbicides. They even employ “avant-garde meteorological stations” in the vineyards, in case you forgot to ask.
One last note, before the wines…the design of the winery was based on a sketch that Giorgio had found in an antique market. He gave the drawing to an architect, who took it from there.
Of the famed Rubesco wines (a blend of Santiovese and Canaiolo) I tasted three vintages–2003, 2004, and Chiara’s penultimate child–2005.
Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio 2003–A hot vintage. Big, fruity, almost charred. I imagine it’d pair quite well with flesh…
Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio 2004–A beckoning finger–she’s called inside the glass. There’s power in elegance and balance. And Cherry has mushroom on her breath. Fennel kisses Violet in a fit of rusticity that lingers until the fruit is gone.
Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio 2005–Baby Boy Blue, hums a Miles Davis tune. His scent rising like talc from tin. Cherry–dried so bright she lights the night–whispers Anise, her voice smoky with cream.