For all those that have travelled to Umbria, either to taste and buy wine or just to go on holiday, cannot have failed to have been captured by its sweeping hills and stunning scenery. The Lungarotti family has been at the heart of its fine wine scene thanks to the quality of the wines it produces at its Torgiano and Montefalco estates. Now the winemaking rests in the hands of Chiara Lungarotti, who works alongside her sister, Teresa, who handles the marketing and PR.
Chiara Lungarotti will be showing her wines and part of the upcoming Sangiovese RESET tasting taking place in London on March 3 where her Umbrian wines will sit alongside other classic examples of Sangiovese from across Italy. Here she shares her story on what we can expect to taste.
Tell us about your winery and the background to the business?
Lungarotti is Umbria’s historic winery. In the 1950’s Giorgio Lungarotti transformed the estate belonging to his family into a specialised wine estate, releasing the first vintage of his wines Rubesco and Torre di Giano in 1962. Just two years later marked the first vintage of Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio.
Research and innovation in vineyards and winery, sustainability, a strong bond with the territory, culture, and hospitality are the values that animate our estate.
Indeed, Torgiano is not only wine: since 1974 it is also the Wine Museum of Torgiano, defined by the New York Times as the “Best in Italy”.
For the past 20 years the estate I have looked after the estate along with my sister Teresa, while the cultural activities are coordinated by our mother, Maria Grazia.
Can you explain the style of Sangiovese you make and what is your approach and philosophy towards winemaking?
As a winemaker every year I try to optimise two essential productive factors: the soil and the climate.
We work very hard to mitigate the effects of unfavourable weather conditions with good agronomy and viticulture practices (green pruning, working the soil, precision viticulture with the support of important DSI). We also need to maintain the biodiversity in the soil as much as possible. Which is why we abandoned many years ago using chemical fertilisers and we now use only cover crops, particularly manure.
As our future depends on the environment, we hope to be able to contribute in our own small ways by preserving it as much as possible with sustainable viticulture, which we have been following in the estate since the early 1990’s. We now have five meteorological stations in the Torgiano Estate, and one in our Montefalco Estate, where we do not use any chemical weed control. Instead we work below the vines to eliminate the weeds that could cause problems to the plants.
We have also been introducing sexual confusion in order to avoid the use of insecticides. Our goal is in a few years to reach “zero” residual in the grapes and consequently in the wine. Finally, in order to further preserve and safeguard biodiversity, such as pollinator insects, we have left small wooded areas and uncultivated areas.
What changes have you made to your viticulture of Sangiovese in recent years?
We focusing mainly on producing two wines, our young Rubesco –a medium bodied wine 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino and our single-vineyard special selection Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio, which is 100% Sangiovese.
We are now increasingly paying greater attention to both winter and green pruning. They are essential not just for the current vintage but to allow the plant to live in a correct way for a long life. It also helps guarantee the proper balance of the single vines within the vineyard as a whole, which is the first step for obtaining a quality product.
Do you find certain export markets prefer certain styles of Sangiovese?
In my experience the fine wine market always looks for something unique and we do our best in order to ensure our wines are a unique expression of our territory, Umbria, the green heart of Italy.
Our Sangiovese presents a unique complexity and balance that reflect the Umbrian terroir and its people: reserved but generous, with great inner strength.
It is also very important to have the right partner who embraces and shares the project and tells their clients the story of our wines and everything that is behind each single bottle.
How much of your wine do you export and what are your main overseas markets?
We export almost 40-45% of our production to 45 markets around the world. Our main markets out of continental Europe are Canada, Japan, China, US, South Korea.
What do you see as your target markets in the future and why?
I think Lungarotti has good opportunities for growth both in our traditional markets as well as in new markets. For us it is essential to have in every corner of the world the right partner and importer for a family company as we are.
Why are you coming to Sangiovese Reset event in London?
I am thrilled to participate in an event that is dedicated to the king of the varietals of central Italy. This is a fantastic varietal, which has been overlooked for a long time. But if it is properly cultivated, in the right place, it can make fantastic, marvellous wines.
What else are you showing at the tasting?
We are also looking forward to showing the richness of the varietal we have cultivated in our vineyards: Grechetto, the typical Umbrian white varietal that in Torre di Giano is married with Vermentino, or Sagrantino, the other important red Umbrian varietal.
Which channels of the UK market do you think your wines are best suited for?
Our wines are best suited to the premium on-trade and specialist independent wine merchants.
What price points do you sell at?
Our Rubesco retail price is around £15, while Rubesco Riserva Vigna Monticchio retails at closer to £44.
Do you have a distributor in the UK?
Yes, we are working with Eurowines and are happy to be working with Leo Addis and his great team.
We started to work together a few years ago we have found them to be a very serious team, devoted to their work and they share our passion for wine.
For a family company, wine also means friendship and we like to build a relationship with our partners based on respect, professionalism and friendship. This is what we found in Eurowines, after a very long search for the right partner.
What do you think of the UK wine market and how important is it to you?
The UK is an historical market for Lungarotti and we have been present there since the very early 1970s. I look forward to long, steady and interesting growth for many years to come.
Anything you are looking to do whilst you are in London?
It’s always great to come to London and it’s always a pleasure to discover hidden gems of the city!
- The Sangiovese RESET tasting takes place on March 3 at London’s Royal Horticultural Halls. You can find out more and register here.
- Jane Hunt, a Master of Wine with over 20 years of experience in organising large scale trade tastings and seminars with an almost exclusive focus on Italy, and Walter Speller, Italian correspondent of www.JancisRobinson.com have come up with the Sangiovese RESET concept.
- This new initiative follows two very successful editions of ‘Nebbiolo Day’.
- Participation at Sangiovese RESET will be by invitation to a select group of up to 90 of the best Sangiovese producers from central Italy. Seminars led by experts on the country and the grape variety, its past as well as its future, will deliver additional in- depth information, education and lively debates.
- Sangiovese RESET is a full day’s immersion in Italy’s Prima Donna grape number one: Sangiovese. A first for this variety, Sangiovese RESET brings together producers from a wide number of contrasting regions of Italy where Sangiovese is grown and will illustrate how this widely planted grape performs in different climates and soil types with varying viticultural management systems.