Monday, October 22, 2012

Enoteca Properzio

Our time in Spello is spent at Enoteca Properzio with Roberto Angelini and his family; brother Carlo, wife Daniela, daughter Irene, and son Luca.  Roberto and Carlo are a 7th generation wine merchant, with his children making it 8 generations.  

 The wines that Roberto serves and sells, are all from small production wineries, wines that you will not find in the US or any other country, due to the small production.  A typical degustatione (wine tasting) has 5 to 6 glasses set up, along with a table setting. 

The tastings begin with bruschetta; the first are olive oils, the nuovo or new olive oil was available while we were there.  Dark olive green in color, the flavor is intense, and luxurious all at once.  The second olive oil is from Doctore Cippoloni, this oil is more buttery in flavor, and is the only olive oil Alain Ducase the famous French chef will use in his kitchens.  These are paired with a crisp white wines from the area, either Tili Grechetto, or Tili Etrusco (blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay). 

The next bruschetta have what they describe as “pates” spread on them: white truffle, black truffle, arugula, fresh tomatoes tossed with oil,  and sun dried tomatoes.  These are paired with the first red, usually a rosso from the area, either the Sagrantino grape (which grows no where else) or a Sagrantino blend.  

Next up is a choice of pasta al tartufo or pasta al pomodoro perfectly paired with another rosso, maybe this time, a local Pinot Noir or a Super Tuscan.   Truffles are a local product, and truffle pasta is something to be experienced. With black truffle rolled into the pasta, then tossed with a bit of oil, and shaved truffle over the top.

La zuppa, a choice of ribolitta, farro, or legume soup.  Thick with vegetables, and pasta, or farro, it’s stick to your ribs fare paired with another red wine from Umbria. 

Salade Mediterraneo is a combination of lambs ears’ lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes with capers, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and preserved tuna fish.  This is dressed with Dr. Cippoloni’s olive oil, and 25 year old traditionally made balsamic vinegar from Modena. 

Last course is a cheese platter with pecorino (sheeps’ milk cheeses) truffle, pepperoni (hot chile) aged Grand Riserva (similar to Parmigiano but a pecorino), another wrapped in walnut leaves, another wrapped in grape leaves and soused with Barolo (called umbriaco—drunk)  and the last aged in a limestone cave and packed in sand. These are served along with chestnut honey for pairing with Kurni 2010.  Kurni is the #1 wine in Italy this year, and was written up in The Wine Spectator magazine a few months ago.  Kurni is much like port in that it paints the glass, and lingers on the palate---paired with salty foods, it is an experience.  

Dessert wines are a new experience for many Americans.  Served with totsetti (small biscotti) to dip into the wine, the passito is a delightful ending to this 3 hour wine pairing. 

Reactions to this wine pairing vary; Americans are a suspicious lot---many ask, why does he keep pouring?  Why?  Because his passion is this wine, this region and its products—that you should sit at his table and enjoy it, as well as celebrate the rare opportunity you have been given.  Hospitality is in Roberto’s family’s DNA—this is what they do, naturally.  No agenda except to share his passion with you and hope that you will embrace the experience.  When we send people to Enoteca Properzio we tell them that this is an experience in Umbria they should not miss, and to us, it’s as important as seeing the Pinturrichio and Perugino frescoes in the churches next door. 

So on your next trip to Italy, put Spello on your itinerary, it is an unspoiled little hill town, tiny,  with one road in being the same one that goes out.  2 1/2 hours from Rome, a stop at Enoteca Properzio (one of the top 3 wine bars in Italy) should be at the top of the list, then go to Assisi, Montefalco, Perugia, and Gubbio.  Umbria is not as overrun with tourists as Tuscany, so it’s a slower experience, stop and let yourself become Italiano for the day or a week!  

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