Arnaldo Caprai is the acknowledged leader in the production of top quality Sagrantino di Montefalco, a wine produced exclusively from grapes of Sagrantino, the variety that has been growing in the region of Montefalco for more than four hundred years.
Marco Caprai strongly believed in the great opportunities that could come from such a long tradition and he translated this heritage with a modern and innovative approach. Thanks to research work and long term experimentation we work to produce top quality elegant wines, that show a unique character. The colour, aroma and taste of our Sagrantino will make you feel the strong character of the people who work it, the beauty of the gentle hills where it grows and the richness and complexity of the long traditions of Montefalco.
Tradition - Innovation - Territory
are the key words that drive us in our everyday efforts
The tradition that belongs to this territory allowed Sagrantino vines to over the centuries. The idea behind our work is revaluate this tradition, through an innovative approach.
Research and experimentation are at the heart of innovation, so we practice them both in the vineyards and in the cellar.
The methods applied to obtain top quality grapes include different types of experimental training systems and a stable, natural and artificial cover cropping. Moreover, a more rational approach in the plant protection processes and a reduced use of nitrogenous fertilizers, together with the choice of the most suitable location for Sagrantino and all the varieties grown in the estate has proved fundamental for the production of good quality grapes.
Innovation for Arnaldo Caprai means also an open approach to new communication strategies, such as internet. Through our website not only we promote our products, but we also encourage communication between those who love our wine and want to know more about the culture and the values our wine symbolize. A wine club (www.amicidelsagrantino.it), events such as Wine Day, and a special wine sold exclusively on the net are some examples of the importance that Arnaldo Caprai attaches to new communication technologies.
In 1971 Arnaldo Caprai, a successful textile businessman, bought the Val di Maggio estate to fulfil his dream of producing his own wine. He started off with only five hectares. As time went by he believed more and more in the great potential of the local varieties and most of all in Sagrantino. He kept buying land in the surroundings.
In 1988 his son Marco Caprai started managing the winery and with his passion and determination gave the necessary impetus to the production of top quality wines.
Since 1991 huge investments are driven into the acquisition of new vineyards, scientific research and technological innovation. The winery starts a collaboration with University of Milan and other Instututes of Research in order to improve the results of production. After a few years, new clones of Sagrantino are identified. the experimentation goes on both on the agronomic and enological sector.
The 1993 "Riserva" of Sagrantino di Montefalco, created to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the company, makes of Marco the acclaimed new star in the Italian wine making panorama.
Since 1995 we have been reaping the fruits of a hard work made of investments and research to offer the best of our territory.
Our goal today is the same as thirty years ago. Careful and constant work aiming at excellence, research and innovation in the agronomic and enological sector, communication of the culture and identity of our region.
Cultivation areas and use specifications
The typical cultivation area includes the Municipality of Montefalco and part of the municipalities of Bevagna, Gualdo Cattaneo, Castel Ritaldi and Giano dell'Umbria, all situated in the province of Perugia. This grape is used in the production of the Montefalco Sagrantino D.O.C.G. and of the Montefalco Rosso D.O.C.
Ampelographic characteristics of the grape
Bud burst: open, cottony, green-white with the margins slightly carmine.
Adult leaf: medium size, with three lobes, sometimes five lobes, petiolar sinus with a U shape, slightly bubbly on the top side, cottony on the bottom side; bristly nerves, medium-large length teeth, tight base and slightly convex margins.
Bunch: medium-small size, cylindrical-conic and winged, sometimes sparse due to oozing.
Grape: small size, medium or very pruinous skin, black colour, medium size, firm
Medium-small grape, cylindrical-conic, winged, sometimes sparse due to weeping; small grape with very to moderately pruinous skin, black, medium thick, firm.
The Arnaldo Caprai estate aiming at expressing all the potential of the local variety, Sagrantino, is carrying out a research study in collaboration with the Dipartimento di Produzioni Vegetali Sez. Coltivazioni Arboree of the University of Milan and the Parco Tecnologico dell'Umbria - Sitech s. cons. a.r.l.
The research addresses different issues:
- Sagrantino Clonal selection
- Implementation of modern techniques in the management of new vineyards (study of the best combination of plant density, rootstock and training system)
Sagrantino Clonal Selection
Between 1990 and 1993 the research was aimed at identifying Sagrantino "mother plants" within its natural range of distribution, that includes the area of Montefalco, Bevagna and Gualdo Cattaneo.
Mother plants are single individuals that belong to the variety Sagrantino, but show different genetic and morphological characteristics, such as shape and largeness of the grape; levels of fertility, vine vigour; level of grape constituents (sugars, acids, phenolics, aromas); and presence of virus diseases.
These mother plants were mainly found in old and abandoned vineyards or in small farms where a limited number of Sagrantino vines were grown only for family consumption and were reproduced for generations via vegetative propagation. Thus, the aim was to recover as much as possible the natural genetic variability that had been lost or significantly reduced as a result of past mass selection.
In nursery, cuttings of the mother plants were grafted onto two different rootstocks in order to obtain rootings. Thus, it was possible to obtain probable clones that were the basis for two experimental vineyards planted in 1994 in two different sites within the range of Sagrantino.
These putative clones were analysed to identify different characteristics such as: buds fertility, average cluster weight, largeness and shape of the grapes; sugar content, pH, total acidity, levels of malic and tartaric acid in the musts; levels of phenolics and anthocyanins in the skins; possible presence of virus diseases detected through ELISA test; DNA mapping to evaluate differences and similarities among the different clones.
The grapes produced by each type of clone undergo a microvinification process at the San Michele all'Adige Institute of Agriculture. It is thus possible to evaluate the characteristics of the wine both through analytic analysis and through panel tastings. These procedures of scientific research will be repeated in the next years in order to identify a group of clones that prove effective in the improvement of the quality of Sagrantino wine. These clones will be registered in compliance with the law.
This selected and certified genetic material will be used for the planting of new polyclonal vineyards. The final aim is the find the best combination of clones to be grown in different sites and for the various enological aims that are pursued.
In order to compare vegetative and productive characteristics of Sagrantino different agronomic techniques are implemented in two separate vineyards planted in 1994.
Comparative studies between different training systems are carried out. Plants trained with the traditional "Palmetta" system (at a density of 1,700 plants per hectare) are compared with those trained with more innovative systems, such as Guyot and Cordon de Royat planted at various densities (3.200, 3.800, 4.800, 5.700, 7000, 8000 plants/ha). Each combination of training system and density is repeated on five rootstocks (3309 C, 161-49 C, 1103 P, 110 R, 140 Ru, ) that show differences in terms of vigour and resistance to various factors including calcareous rocks, drought, etc. A total of forty different combinations are tested and compared in each experimental vineyard.
Production per plant is limited by manual cluster thinning, in order to obtain a production of 8t/ha in compliance with the DOCG regulations. For each combination the same tests carried out for the clonal selection (a part from DNA mapping and ELISA test) are performed in order to evaluate the vegetative and productive characteristics of the vines; finally microvinifications are also carried out. It is important to underline that in searching for the best combination possible between density, training system and rootstock, the possibility of an effective mechanisation maintaining the highest level of quality it is also taken into account.
As with clonal selection, it is necessary to compare the results yielded in several years, in order to take into consideration how a vintage affects the characteristics of each tested combination. The final outcome of clonal selection will result in the identification and description of clones of Sagrantino that prove suitable to the various sites and to different winemaking purposes. Such clones will be registered and included in the National Register of clones in compliance with the Italian legislation.
From the origins to the Medieval time
There is a large number of historic evidence about the wines produced in the area of Montefalco.
In the I century a.C., Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historiae mentions the Itriola grape as the typical variety of Montefalco and researchers compare this to the present Sagrantino. As Sagrantino does not show any resemblance with other varieties that grow in central Italy, researchers claim that Sagrantino's origins are exclusive to Montefalco, while others believe that Sagrantino originally came from Asia Minor and it was taken to Montefalco by followers of San Francis of Assisi. Sagrantino is probably named after the term "Sacramenti", the religious services when this red wine was probably used.
Another important piece of evidence are the carvings representing vineyards in the area surrounding Montefalco in the apse of the Medieval church of San Bartolomew.
In Montefalco's historic archive there are several documents dating back to 1200 where "the care of vine-growers take in following their vineyards" is described. In the first half of 1300 a new rules of law regulating the issue are released to "safeguard vines and wine" of the area of Montefalco.
In 1451 the famous Florentine painter Benozzo da Gozzoli was hired by the Franciscans to decorate with frescoes the apse of their church which today is one of the most important Museums of Central Italy. The subject of the Frescoes is the life of San Francis. In the episode of Knight of Celani the bottle of a dessert red wine portrayed on the table of the Knight is probably Sagrantino.
Vine-growing and wine making was a most serious issue in Montefalco, so much so that in 1540 a regulation of the Commune established the date for the beginning of the harvest.
During the Renaissance Montefalco's wine is very well known and appreciated as a quality wine, so much so that Cipriano Piccolpasso in his famous report to the Pope about the territory under his rule states that: "...Montefalco, laying on top of a hill with a marvellous view, is surrounded by beautiful and good vineyards, and with the fruit makes delicate wines..." Wine-growing was such a serious matter that in 1622 Cardinal Boncompagni establishes "the death penalty by hanging for those who are found to cut a grape vine".
The modern age
In 1800 Calindri in his historical and statistical report of the territories of the Pope, mentions Montefalco as the area producing the best quality wine in the state.
In 1925 during an important wine fair, Montefalco is regarded as the leading wine region in Umbria: "Montefalco is the leading wine growing area with specialised vineyards with an average production of 6.5 t per hectare" thus proving that Sagrantino tends to be a low yielding variety.
On October 30, 1979 the Appellation DOC Sagrantino is created and on November 5, 1992 the top appellation DOCG is awarded to Sagrantino. This date marks a turning point in the story of Sagrantino and of the entire area of Montefalco promoting its future economic and cultural development.
White Sagrantino is one of the most recent results obtained by our research and testing team.
White Sagrantino in an authentic individual that owns the same Sagrantino’s DNA as we know it today, but his berries are white.
The result has been obtained making dominant a latent character present in red Sagrantino using self-pollination which is the most common and largely used method to build new varieties.
Despite including human intervention this method has nothing to do with molecular genetics and gene transfers. Unlike the vegetative genetic improvement that exploits the character’s heterogeneity that show up after natural or artificial bud mutation, sexual reproduction is characterised by a genetic recombination. We chose different isolated and self-pollinated plants in old vineyards of Sagrantino. We obtained some bunches from which we got the seeds then planted in an experimental field. After a first selection, we chose 250 genotypes subsequently propagated through vegetative reproduction, among these last there were white, grey and obviously red Sagrantino.
This research allowed us to discover Sagrantino’s genetic characters both dominant and latent (among which also the white berries). At the beginning, when we discovered white grapes we thought not having isolated sufficiently the self-pollinated plants from other pollens. On the contrary, DNA exams confirmed it was Sagrantino: a white Sagrantino from a phenotypic point of view but red from the genotypic point of view. It is likely that in Sagrantino’s genealogy once existed a white Sagrantino , which had been abandoned because of its recessive character.
The experiment is part of a long job we’ve been carrying out to discover all Sagrantino’s qualities from its genetic variability to all the characteristics inherent this variety. This research that also aims to select the best clones and wants to discover the genetic origin of this vine.
This job will have an important spin off on the cultural field. The data gathered will allow to detect and to rebuild the presence or not of relationships between Sagrantino and other grape varieties through DNA analysis and comparative genetics.
From the productive point of view the very first white Sagrantino’s grape harvest happened in 2006 in 10 hectars of experimental vineyards.
The grapes subjected to analysis will enable us to establish if they have the characteristics to be worked and to be converted into a new kind of wine: the white Montefalco’s Sagrantino.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a basic element of the Mediterranean Diet, is easily produced within the elevated green Umbrian Hillsides. Umbrian Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a product which is highly valued not only for its medicinal benefits, but also for it's flavour. It has been adopted by the greatest Italian Chefs, as an essential component in their exclusive recipes. Olive oil has proven to offer great versatility for the preparation of soups, salads, bruschette, fish and delicate sea-foods.
Following such a long tradition, the Caprai estate produces an Extra Virgin Olive Oil from olives harvested by hand from the trees planted on the rocky hills of the area between Trevi and Foligno.
The oil is produced by light cold pressing and thanks to a wise combination between traditional practices and modern technology, the quality of the end product is exceptionally high. The oil shows a deep green colour, and pleasantly fruity aromas. Intense, rich and full bodied in the mouth.
NOME DELL’EXTRAVERGINE: Olio extravergine di oliva Arnaldo Caprai
DOP / IGP e SOTTOZONA: DOP Umbria Colli Martani
AREA DI PRODUZIONE: Montefalco
ALTITUDINE: 300 metri slm
COMPOSIZIONE DEL TERRENO: Calcareo Argilloso
VARIETA’ IN OLIVE: 60Moraiolo 40Frantoio
NUMERO PIANTE DI OLIVO NELL’AZIENDA: 2200
PRODUZIONE MEDIA PLURIENNALE DI EXTRAVERGINE DELL’ AZIENDA: 30-40 Q
BOTTIGLIE PRODOTTE TOTALI: 5000 da 0,750
PERIODO DI RACCOLTA: Metà Ottobre
SISTEMA DI RACCOLTA: Raccolta a mano dalla pianta
SISTEMA DI ESTRAZIONE: Sinolea
FRANGITURA:Le olive vengono frante entro le 24 ore successive alla raccolta
TIPO FRANTOIO UTILIZZATO PER L’OLIO IN QUESTIONE: Continuo
COLORE: verde scuro intenso
CATEGORIA DEGUSTATIVA: Fruttato Medio
NOTE DEGUSTATIVE: gradevolmente fruttato con retrogusto amarognolo piccante
IMPIEGO: Su tutti i piatti in particolar modo si adatta con grande versatilità a zuppe, insalate, bruschette, ma anche ai esci e ai crostacei più delicati.
Olive Variety : Moraiolo
Colour: deep dark green
Aroma: intensely fruity
Flavour: full, well balanced and intense
The Sagrantino vine gives grapes with skin rich in polyphenols and with extremely complex aromatic characteristics. For this reason, the Grappa resulting from the distillation of the skins from the Sagrantino grapes is very refined, and characterised by the subtle, yet persistent aroma of the vine it originates from.
Its aspect is clear and bright. It is very smooth and pleasant on the palate, and characterised by dried fruits and chocolate aftertaste.
VARIETAL: Sagrantino 100
COLOR: clear and bright
AROMA: full sensations, with notes of dried fruits
TASTE: smooth and dry with pleasant almond and chocolate aftertaste