Paolo Bea

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References in the archives of Montefalco, the beautiful hill town in Umbria, document the presence of the Bea family in this locality as early as 1500. This tiny estate is the classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption and working the land to produce olives, fruits and vegetables. To this day, the Bea family raises and produces much of what they consume on a daily basis. Paolo Bea, the senior member of the family, is the guiding force behind the production of this series of intense and idiosyncratic wines. He is assisted by his two sons, Giuseppe, who farms the vineyards, and Giampiero, who assists in the vinification and is responsible for all commercial aspects of the winery.

The entire property encompasses 15 hectares: 5 of which are dedicated to the vineyards, 2 to olives, and the remainder to the fruits, vegetables and grains that are grown. Sagrantino is the predominant grape, covering 60% of the vineyard surface. The remaining 40% is planted to Sangiovese and Montepulciano, with a small parcel planted to several white varieties. The vineyards are cultivated organically, all grapes are harvested manually and all wines are bottled without fining or filtration.

chiara Santa Chiara, Umbria Bianco: A white wine produced from Grachetto, Malvasia , Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Garganega, in approximately equal proportions, planted in the “Pagliaro” vineyard, a site with alternating layers of gravel and clay at 1300 feet above sea level with both east and southwest facing parcels. After crushing, the juice spends at least two weeks macerating on its lees; sulfur is never added. Fermentation occurs in small stainless steel vats at low temperatures. Two rackings are done early in the fermentation process to remove the heavy deposits and a third is done after three weeks. This wine is then left on the fine lees in stainless steel for one year before being bottled. Approximately 4500 bottles of wine are produced annually.
arboreus Arboreus, Umbria Bianco Arboreus: is made from a Trebbiano clone known as Trebbiano Spoletino which is trained so that the fruit hangs high above the ground. The vineyards are planted in the low hills between Trevi and Montefalco at an elevation of 650 to 700 feet with a range of parcels facing both to the east and to the southwest. The soil is essentially clay and gravel. Harvest generally occurs during the first two weeks of October. The wine is left in contact with the skins for up to three weeks or more and is then aged in stainless steel tanks for at least two years prior to bottling. Sulfur is never added. Annual production is in the range of 3000 bottles.
“Lapideus” Umbria Bianco: Giampiero acquired a parcel of 80-year-old Trebbiano Spoletino in the town of Pigge di Trevi several years back, and thus with this 2014 we have an exciting new addition to the Bea lineup. Arising from a cooler microclimate than the “Arboreus” above, “Lapideus” spent a lengthy 35 days on it skins after pressing, followed by 210 additional days on the gross lees—a similar vinification to “Arboreus,” yet one that yielded entirely different results. Though no less deeply amber in its appearance, “Lapideus” has a leaner, racier carriage than the broad-shouldered “Arboreus,” with more filigree, a less overwhelmingly intense nose of apricots, cloves, and candied ginger. If “Arboreus” is a sea to swim in, “Lapideus” is a rocket to ride, emphasizing drive and lift over layered density. It is still a wine of impressive power, especially given its modest 12% alcohol, but the fruit is more direct, pure, and foregrounded. So often the so-called “orange wines” seem to stand alone, iconoclastic creations that defy fine-tuned peer-group comparisons and revel in their singular personalities. Even the discourse that surrounds them tends to treat them more as wines of technique than wines of terroir. Thus, it is fascinating to experience the same grape variety given roughly the same treatment by the same grower, whereby the differences in the wines are largely driven by the differences in their underlying places of origin.
rosso Rosso de Veo: The current version of Rosso de Veo is a selection of the Bea estate’s younger Sagrantino vines, principally from the “Cerrete” vineyard which graces the highest point in Montefalco, between 1300 and 1500 feet above sea level. The soil is clay and limestone infused with small pebbles from an ancient riverbed. This wine is vinified in a similar fashion to the single vineyard Sagrantino with a long cuvaison which extends forty to fifty days. The wine is then aged one year in stainless steel tanks, two years in large oak barrels and another year in bottle before release. The wine is not filtered. Production varies depending on vintage … 9000 bottles were produced in 2005, the first year this exclusively Sagrantino-based cuvée was created.
valentino Montefalco Rosso San Valentino: 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.
pipparello Montefalco Rosso Riserva Pipparello: The Pipparello vineyard is a hilltop site in Montefalco at 1300 feet above sea level. The soil is clay and gravel. The vines in the Pipparello vineyard are a minimum of 20 years old. Harvest takes place normally during the middle of October. The ultimate wine is a blend of roughly 60% Sangiovese, 25% Montepulciano and 15% Sagrantino. The cuvaison extends for a period between 40 to 50 days. After the alcoholic fermentation this wine spends a year in stainless steel tanks and then two years in large oak barrels and is released after an additional year of bottle-aging.
pagliaro Sagrantino di Montefalco Secco Pagliaro: The fabled local grape of Montefalco is the Sagrantino and the Pagliaro vineyard, situated at 1300 feet in altitude, is dedicated in large part to this grape variety. The harvest of Sagrantino normally occurs during the second half of October. The cuvaison extends for forty to fifty days. The wines is then aged for one year in stainless steel, another two years in large Slavonian oak barrels and, finally, spends one more year in bottle (the wine, like all Bea wines, is unfiltered) before release. Annual production from the Pagliaro vineyard is 15,000 to 20,000 bottles.
passito Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito: This rare and very special wine, made exclusively from Sagrantino, is harvested late and left to raisin for four months before pressing. As it air dries, a white mold forms that balances and concentrates the acid, sugar and tannins. The grapes, as raisins, contain approximately 30% sugar at this point (January of the following year) and they are then de-stemmed and crushed. Fermentation begins and slowly progresses until the sugar level reaches 16% to 18%; pressing then takes place and the resulting wine carries approximately 90 grams of residual sugar. The wine is then aged in stainless steel for four years or more and then an extra in bottle prior to its commercial release. The Sagrantino Passito is not produced every year and, when it is made, 1000 to 2000 half bottles are produced.

American Wine Importers That Changed the Game

GuildSomm Kelli White 18 Oct 2018 Neal Rosenthal throws open the door to his upstate New York farmhouse. Two red-tinted standard poodles spill out from either side of his legs and begin their inspection. I hold out my hands in greeting—one to Neal, one to the dogs. “You made it!” he exclaims, sounding as surprised […]

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New Releases from Paolo Bea Featuring the Blockbuster 2011 Vintage

For Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s longtime clients, the wines of Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea likely need no introduction. Since the mid-1980s, the bold, unpolished, yet intellectually stimulating and singular wines from this beautiful family farm in Montefalco, Umbria, have delighted and challenged a steadily growing fan base in the United States. Now, each new series of […]

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A revelatory moment with 2009 Arboreus

Neal I’ve been on a skin-contact kick lately. I think that beginning our relationship with Gravner and diving into those wines in a serious way triggered a perspective shift in my brain. While I had always enjoyed “orange wines” and found them interesting, I was never able to “see into” them the way I felt […]

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Several Visits to the Cellar

The nicest aspect of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is that it gives us a bit of “down-time” to explore the cellar and dig up a few wines to drink at our leisure. So, here is a brief report on a few wonders that have been hanging out underground for awhile … We had the pleasure […]

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The 2006 Vintage from Bea

The first shipment of the wines of the 2006 vintage from Paolo Bea arrived last week. Yes, five plus years after the harvest the wines have been released. Contrary to the generally high quality wines produced in 2006 from the neighboring zone of Tuscany, the ’06 vintage in Umbria was problematic with grapes struggling to […]

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