Arnaldo Caprai: Montefalco’s Champion of Sagrantino

Marco Caprai

We’ve had the opportunity to taste several vintages of Arnaldo Caprai’s Montefalco wines over the past year in Montefalco, Seattle, and Washington DC. These tastings as well as those of other producers lead us to conclude that this estate, led today by Marco Caprai, shown here, is the region’s torch-bearer for the Sagrantino grape.

Textile empresario Arnaldo Caprai bought the Val di Maggio estate in Torre di Montefalco in 1971 and passed it on to his son Marco in 1988. In 1991 Marco began a research project with the University of Milan to identify the best clones and to improve vinification techniques for Sagrantino.  Today the 150 acre Caprai vineyard (89 in production) makes several Sagrantino and Grecante based wines carrying Montefalco, Umbria and Colli Martani appellations.  Arnaldo’s son Marco  has been General Manager and Winemaker since 1988.  Arnaldo Caprai was named Gambero Rosso’s Winery of the Year in 2006.  The US importer is Wilson Daniels.

The Wines

Arnaldo Caprai 2021 Grecante Grechetto Colli Martani ($22) 91  Medium green-gold straw. Subtle orchard fruit bouquet with green tapenade accent. Medium bodied with nice precision and mid-palate richness. Stylish and elegant with mineral-stone notes on the finish. 13.5% alc.

Arnaldo Caprai 2019 Rosso Montefalco DOC ($25) 91  Medium dark ruby. Leathery bouquet of plum and dark cherry with herbal edge. Firm on the palate with solid tannins and bright acidity; mouth filling, complex and balanced. A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, and 15% Merlot fermented in stainless steel with ambient yeast and matured 12 months in French oak barriques. 14.5% alc. Very good but not up to the standards of the 2016 that we tasted earlier.

Arnaldo Caprai 2018 Rosso Riserva Montefalco DOC ($52) 92  Medium garnet ruby. Rich nose of tobacco, cherry, and anise with a violet note. Firm on the palate with medium plus density and solid tannins. A serious wine with a long finish and good extract. The Merlot contributing more mid-palate fruit intensity compared to the 2019 Montefalco Rosso above.  A blend of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot matured 14 months in small oak barriques. 15% alc.

Sagrantino

Arnaldo Caprai 2018 Collepiano Sagrantino Montefalco DOC ($53) 94  Medium ruby red. Fresh deep black cherry, marasca cherry, and floral sweet oak aromas. Dense and powerful with dark berry and plum flavors and a note of anise. A classic, really well made Montefalco Sagrantino. Made from 40 year-old vines with 22 months in French oak. 15.5% ac.

Arnaldo Caprai 2016 Sagrantino 25 Anni Montefalco DOC ($115) 96  Complex nose showing fresh dark plum and berry with earthy mushroom notes. Silky smooth, densely flavored palate; complex earthy dark fruited with firm dry tannins and a long rich finish. Superlatives do not suffice to describe this wine. Aged 24 months in French oak barriques. 15.5% alc. Even more elegant and accessible than the 2014 vintage also tasted, yet more concentrated as well.

Arnaldo Caprai 2017 Sagrantino Passito Montefalco DOC ($60) 94  Nearly opaque, dark ruby. Perfume of black and red fruit, dark chocolate and mint-like herbs. Sweet on the attack with dense, rich flavors; beautifully focused with firm acidity and chewy tannins. Fermented in stainless steel with ambient yeast; matured 15 months in French oak with 12 months bottle aging. 132 g/L Almost as good as the 2016.

Note: Contributing Editor Joel Butler MW participated in tastings of these wines in Seattle and Washington DC.    

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