A white wine produced from Grechetto, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Garganega, in approximately equal proportions, planted in the Pagliaro vineyard, a site with alternating layers of gravel and clay at 1,300 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 4,500 bottles of wine are produced annually.
Bea’s wines remain singular—boisterous, unabashedly wild expressions of their undulating, sun-drenched hills of origin, each new vintage of which is eagerly anticipated by a legion of loyal clients.
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. Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea is a classic Italian fattoria, producing wine, raising farm animals for trade and home consumption, and working the land to produce olives, fruits, and vegetables. At the time Neal began working with the family in the late 1980s, a young and ambitious Giampiero Bea was learning the ropes alongside his father Paolo—a through-and-through farmer with an Umbrian dialect so thick as to be nearly incomprehensible to outsiders. Paolo produced shockingly expressive wines using a bare minimum of technology, and while these staunchly old-school wines were out of step with the modernization-happy Italian trends of the 1980s and 1990s, they resonated deeply with Neal and with our clients—and they continue to do so decades later. Giampiero has long been at the helm of Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea, and his commitment to healthy farming and low-intervention cellar work has made him a pillar in the Italian natural wine community. But it is Paolo’s approach—so bred-in-bone as to seem instinctual—that guides the estate to this day, given voice and definition through Giampiero’s remarkable work.
Certified organic, some biodynamic practices
Copper-sulfate only, cover crops sown between the vines
Annual ploughing to promote vineyard health
Limestone-clay and gravels
Trained in Cordon (Arboreus vines are trained up trees), vines for Pipparello and Cerrete are at least 20 years old. San Valentino vines are 50 years old. Vines for Arboreus and Lapideus are over 80 years old
Controlled through severe winter pruning and debudding
Entirely manual, late September to late October
Entirely estate fruit
After total destemming, wines ferment spontaneously in stainless-steel tanks without temperature control. Cuvaison lasts 35-60 days
Red wines see punchdowns during fermentation
Vertical basket press
Spontaneous, following alcoholic fermentation
Wines age between 12 months and 5 years in stainless-steel tanks and large Slavonian oak botti
Wines remain on their fine lees until assemblage prior to bottling
All wines are unfined and unfiltered
Applied only at bottling if necessary, with 40-55 mg/l total sulfur