The best Ciliegiolo from Umbria in 5 labels under 20 euros

Feb 28 2024, 12:28
Among the black grape varieties cultivated in Umbria, in addition to Sagrantino and Sangiovese, there is also Ciliegiolo, which is currently vinified in purity. Here are the labels with the best quality-price ratio

Sagrantino and Sangiovese are the two main black grape varieties cultivated in Umbria, a small region in terms of territorial extension but significant when considering the high average quality of the actors in the wine scene. To these two grapes, however, Ciliegiolo has been added for some time, a grape variety previously used mostly in blends but now vinified in purity.

In Umbria, it is mainly cultivated in the gentle hills around Narni and Amelia in the southern part of the region, bordering Lazio. Its origins seem ancient; some even think it might be the grape used by the Etruscans, who inhabited these areas, for their winemaking. Others believe that the grape, whose name obviously refers to the olfactory analogy with cherries, comes from Spain and was introduced to central Italy around the second half of the 19th century by pilgrims returning from Santiago de Compostela. However, recent genetic studies conducted on the variety tend to suggest that Ciliegiolo has a very close relationship with Sangiovese.

In the late '70s, some winemakers began to vinify Ciliegiolo in purity, deciding to enhance the grape's potential. In hindsight, the choice was more than correct: contemporary tastes that prefer fruity vitality and lightness perfectly match the characteristics of the grape, which, in its more ambitious versions, can also support a few years of aging.

The best quality-price Ciliegiolo

Here is a selection of labels to explore the world of Umbrian Ciliegiolo: these are those reviewed in the Gambero Rosso's Berebene 2024 guide, available in wine shops or online stores for less than 20 euros.

Zanchi's Carmìno 2021 Ciliegiolo is dense and complex, with hints of cherry, licorice, and underbrush. A red wine that conveys a territory through a centered and fresh sip, with a long finish. Zanchi's winery is located on the hills of Amelia, in the province of Terni. Among the grape varieties, local varieties are cultivated and enhanced through constant quality research.

Leonardo Bussoletti's Brecciaro 2021 has character and pleasantness, combining aromas of small red fruits with a dense mouth, structured by a evident tannic texture. A wine to drink immediately or wait a few years to fully enjoy its evolution. Leonardo Bussoletti values his name, always dedicated to enhancing Umbrian winemaking tradition. The winery is new but functional and modern, deserving a visit for its beauty.

Sandonna's Ciliegiolo 2022 smells of cherry, red fruits, and a delicate floral undertone. The palate is energetic, substantial, with sensations that echo those perceived on the nose. A wine of great vitality and character that reaches the finals. The management of the vines avoids invasive winemaking practices, adopting methods such as spontaneous fermentations and no filtrations before bottling.

Marchesi Ruffo della Scaletta's Ciliegiolo 2021, awarded for the best regional quality-price ratio by Gambero Rosso, is elegant, offering aromas of fruit and a slightly ferrous undertone. The palate is lively and fleshy, with a long and flavorful finish. The vineyards of the company are located in the southern part of Umbria, cultivating traditional local varieties.

Cantina Giovannini's Ciliegiolo di Narni 2019 gives a wine that smells of cherries and blackberries, with a juicy and structured sip characterized by well-integrated tannins. The winery is a new entry in the 2024 editions of the Vini d'Italia and Berebene guides. It is a family-owned business located a few kilometers from the city of Narni.

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