Monday, October 2, 2017

Lungarotti Winery in Torgiano: Vines, Wine & Art

Lungarotti is synonymous with Torgiano, the region which gave birth to Umbrian wine. Founded by the legendary Giorgio Lungarotti in the early 1960's, the company now is run by sisters Chiara Lungarotti and Teresa Severini, the first women to run a major winery in Italy. Umbrian wines are now widely recognized for their high quality, many estates on a par with high end Tuscan estates, but Lungarotti is credited with earning the region its initial fame, thanks to its pioneering wines and insatiable drive to promote Umbrian wine and culture. Although wine has been made in Umbria for untold centuries, it was under the hand of the late Giorigio Lungarotti and his earthy Sangiovese blends that Umbrian wines reached a worldwide audience in modern times. While Lungarotti produces a wide variety of wines, liquors and other gourmet products, the firm is best known for three iconic wines: San Giorgio, Rubesco — Umbria’s first DOC-recognized wine — and Rubesco Vigna Monticchio. The former is a Sangiovese-Cabernet blend, while the latter two are Sangiovese-Canaiolo blends, but all undergo a long bottle aging process before being released onto the market. Such long aging times is a Lungarotti trademark, setting the brand’s wines apart from the crowd with their elegant, earthy, even leathery touches. Lugarotti has also gained fame for its white wines, in particular Chardonnays, but their signature white however, is Torre di Giano, a refreshing Grechetto and Trebbiano blend. They were also innovators in wine tourism in Italy, founding a wine museum in 1974. Located in the 17th century Palazzo Graziani Baglioni, the Museo del Vino is a private collection of objects that span 5000 years of wine history. It is also a cultural centre for local agricultural history, theory, techniques and even archaeology and documentation.

Founded by Giorgio Lungarotti in the early ’60s, the company is now run by the sisters Chiara Lungarotti (R) and Teresa Severini (L)

Arriving for a Lungarotti private guided tour 'From Vine to Wine with Alessandra, our visit began with a tour of the winery and cellars where the vinification process takes place using a combination of the most modern technology as well as a personal hands-on approach with corking their champagne, followed by a visit to the spectacular Wine Museum, curated by Giorgio Lungarotti's wife Maria Grazia Marchetti, and the adjacent Olive Oil Museum, located in a medieval mill within the historic centre of Torgiano. A visit to the Wine Museum, has few rivals in the world in terms of number and quality of works on display, and covers twenty rooms of exhibits in the Palazzo Graziani-Baglioni. The thematic collections are veritable 'museums within the museum' and range from ceramics of the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary periods, as well as collections of antique books, wafer irons, antique engravings, to contemporary sculptures that explore the myth of Dionysus and the occasions for enjoying wine. The Olive and Oil Museum is equally impressive. An ancient plant and the major symbol of Mediterranean culture, the olive tree and the oil extracted from its fruit are the subject of this ten-room museum. By mid afternoon, we headed for a delicious lunch and wine tasting at Lugarotti's L'U Wine Bar, which Alessandra had booked for us earlier in the day. A tiny modern restaurant set within an antique ceramics kiln in Torgiano, L'U has a lovely menu of typical umbrian dishes matched with Lungarotti wines, which we explored with gusto.

 Lungarotti has a special celebration in early spring where they burn the cuttings of all the old vine growth in giant bonfires, to mark the start of new growing season

The Lungarotti winery produces over 2,500,000 bottles of wine per year 
on about 620 acres

Alessandra gave us a private guided tour of Lungarotti

The grapes are picked from the vines and crushed along with the seeds

Once the grapes are pressed, these large stainless steel vats are used for the 
fermentation process takes two to three weeks to complete

Then the wine is moved to large oak barrels for maturation 

Some wine is matured in smaller oak barrels which are aged and blended with one another to create elegant wines with more nuanced flavours 

A large cork is used to seal holes in the barrels which are used to sample the wines 
at different stages

The bottling and labelling area of Lungarotti uses modern technology but still preserves 
Giorgio Lungarotti's original mechanized bottling system which transported the bottles 
two at a time through the winery

Once the bottles are filled, they are then labelled

The winery also makes over 40,000 bottles of Vino Spumante Metodo Classico Brut each year, made in the manner of classic French Champagne 

To remove the sediment, the tops of the bottles are frozen, the sediment removed, 
and a secret recipe for extra sweetness added 

Every bottle of Vino Spumante is corked by hand

Alessandra shows us how the corking process is done

Last on the tour of the winery was the wine library with the best of the previous vintages, 
dating back to the early 1960s when Giorgio Lungarotti started his winery

The Entoeca at Lungarotti sells all their current vintages, as well as their balsamico and olive oil

Next stop was the spectacular Wine Museum, curated by Giorgio Lungarotti's wife Maria Grazia Marchetti, as well as the adjacent Olive Oil Museum

The Museo del Vino located in a Medieval mill in the historic centre of Torgiano

Collection of ancient Roman terracotta olive oil amphorae

The museum's collection of antique books on on viticulture and enology, and those that explore the myth of Dionysus and cult of wine

20th century Wedding Chalices made in Murano

The Museum also has a collection of modern ceramics

Ceramic apothecary jars with ancient texts on the herbal remedies

16th century majolica wine jug with lid from Venice

19th century Italian bronze bust of Pan by Vincenzo Gemito

Drawer upon drawer of rare etchings, engravings and drawings from the 15th to 20th centuries

Bacchanal, a linocut print by Pablo Picasso

Antique 18th century Italian wine press

The age-old craft of wine barrel making in Italy

L'U Wine Bar Vecchia Fornace in Torgiano

Owned by Lungarotti, L'U Wine Bar serves traditional Umbrian cuisine 
matched with Lungarotti wines

A lovely crisp and dry 2016 Lungarotti Grechetto is one of Umbria’s oldest native varietals, 
usually blended with Trebbiano

2013 Lungarotti Rubesco, the same wine which we saw being matured in oak barrels 
earlier in the day

Selezione di salumi locali e formaggi artigianali accompagnati da miele e confetture

Umbricelli con acciughe e briciole di pane

Ravioli di baccala e passata di ceci

Galletto ruspante in foglia di vite con maionese al vino

Cubo do maialino da latte glassato al balsamico Lungarotti con tortino di melanzane

Patate grigliate


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