Umbria Wine Tour – Cantina Number One: Rialto
Mark from Gusto Wine Tours came to pick us up at 9am on Tuesday, September 21. We all loaded ourselves into the van and we were off about a good hour or so into the Umbrian countryside. After some windy and bumpy roads, we come to our first cantina: Rialto (the website is in Italian, so you’ll have to get something to translate it into English). We had a nice, sunny day, perfect for taking in the scenery and drinking some good, complex wines.
And then, this guy shows up:
The guy on the left is our guide, Mark. The guy on the right…he’s the winemaker: Eraldo Dentici. Looks like he just got home from the club right? Don’t let looks fool you. This guy has grown up surrounded by this. It’s in his blood (we also found out he has an identical twin brother). We head on down to where all the magic happens. We got to smell some of the wines that weren’t ready yet (Mark vouches for Eraldo’s Chardonnay, pictured) and were able to see the separation between the skins and the liquid in the tanks.
I admit, sitting in the back of the van on a slightly empty stomach wasn’t the best idea. I was a bit woozy and wasn’t feeling too well when we were going around the small cantina. But then, I was struck with this vision:
Nothing like a little bit of wine and cured meats and cheese to make one feel so much better. The cheese was definitely necessary, because with the really hearty Sagrantino wine we tried, we needed something to stand up to it. It was the most amazing pairing I think I have ever had. We tried a couple of his wines: Grechetto (a white Umbrian wine), Rosso (a mix of grapes), Sagrantino (a very full-flavored grape) and his Passito dessert wine which is made out of the Sagrantino grapes, but they’re dried. Every one of his wines were amazing. The Sagrantino and dessert wine especially. The Passito wasn’t as sweet as Port or any other red dessert wine that you can find here. Unfortunately, his Chardonnay wasn’t quite ready yet, but Mark says it’s the best one he’s ever had. And from what we sampled, I will probably agree. What was awesome, is that the tastes we got were HUGE. He also cleaned our glasses with a bit of the wine we were about to try. Amazing. Only in Italy and only in these small cantinas that only produce maybe about 60,000 bottles a year. In the grand scheme of things, that’s really not a lot.
After we finish some tastings and buy some bottles, we make our way outside to see some interesting things we didn’t notice on the way in.
Like a beehive.
and me randomly walking somewhere
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering what this is. Well, under this tarp, I believe are the grape scraps. They’re going to use this for making grappa. I think you need a special license to make grappa, so the small places like this send their scraps out to specialty places to have it done. Interesting.
And here, we come to the end of Cantina Rialto. I have to say that out of the three, I loved this place the best. It was also the first time I had really gotten to try complex wines and a grape (sagrantino) that I’ve never had before. A real educational and tipsy experience.
I’m sure I’ll be repeating myself for the next one or two blog posts about the cantinas that I loved this tour. We got to see a part of Umbria that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a real amazing place and is also very up and coming. People are always running to Tuscany, but they should really take their time and go through Umbria. The food, the people, the wine and the scenery are amazing.