The Focused wines of Fongoli

6/30/17 -


Last fall we were graced by a visit from Angelo and Letizia of Azienda Fongoli and I came away from the experience deeply impressed. Not only were they lovely people who were excellent communicators about their land and their philosophy, but their wines were absolutely wonderful. The estate was founded in 1927 by Decio Fongoli Calvani and has passed down through three generations to Angelo and his sister Simona. However, the wines fit in with a new generation of winegrowers in Italy who are focused not just on quality, but on organic farming and non-interventionist wine making.


Instead of serving as a marketing tactic, they make the point of differentiating their farming as truly organic, conducted with the best interest of the land in mind. Just under half of the property is reserved for oak forests and other un-tamed areas, and native grasses are grown between the rows of vines as opposed to cultivated cover crops. The only fertilizer utilized is manure, and nothing but copper and sulfur are used to combat odium and rot. In addition to healthy soils, this leads to a natural reduction in yields, resulting in concentrated fruit without the need for aggressive pruning.

The approach in the winery is shaped to show the character of the grape at hand. Native yeasts are used for all fermentations and malolactic fermentation occurs naturally during long elevage in wood. The barrels in the cellar are primarily large Slavonian oak and range in age from 5 to 40 years old. The old barrels used are key: they are needed to soften the tannic structure of Sagrantino through gentle oxygenation instead of adding astringency that new oak can convey. The local Trebbiano Spoletino used for the whites is distinct from Trebbiano Toscano (known best for its bright acidity and high yields); Trebbiano Spoletino produces wine with a richer texture and more overt orchard fruit. For the second vintage in a row, they produced a skin contact wine to showcase these traits. Beginning with the 2011 vintage they have expanded the number of wines produced without added sulfur, including the Trebbiano in today's offer.

The care given to the farming and production of these wines shows in the glass. The Trebbiano Maceratum is unctuous with a focus and purity uncommon for a wine made entirely without added sulfur. The Montefalco Rosso is a delicious fruit-forward wine with a slight tannic kick from a small percentage of Sagrantino in the blend. Rather than being over-bearing, their Sagrantino conveys a sense of elegance and restraint uncommon from such a tannic grape. The wines of Fongoli are all vibrant, living examples of the grapes at hand, showcasing some of the unique varieties of Umbria.

-Andy Paynter

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