Agricola Romanelli is an organic estate winery and mixed farm in the village of Colle San Clemente in the central north-eastern part of the Montefalco region of Umbria, Italy. It was founded in 1978 by Devis Romanelli’s father and paternal grandfather Amadeo. At that time it was a mixed farm with wine grapes, olive trees, pigs and cows. From 1988 Amadeo stopped making wine (he sent the grapes to the cooperative) and focused instead on olive oil. From 2003 Devis Romanelli (3rd generation) started replanting vineyards, making his first wines in 2007. White wines are made under the Spoleto DOC and Colli Martani DOC, and reds under the Montefalco Rosso DOC, the Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG and the Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito denominations. 

Owner: Devis Romanelli (35 years old in early 2018).

Vineyards & other crops2018 36ha of land of which 8 hectares of vines (45,000 bottles). There are 3ha of Sagrantino on three soil types for which three wines are made. Merlot does well here on the clay. Also Trebbiano Spoletino (various biotypes) in both Montefalco and Castel Ritaldi.

Terroir: Clay soils. Former lake bed. Exposed to the north and the cool, dry tramontana (north) wind which arrives via the valley which runs from Perugia to Spoleto. 350 metres. This is one of the later ripening terroirs for Sagrantino in the Montefalco area, with harvest sometimes into November.

Viticulture: The main rootstock is 420A, plus a single plot on 110 Richter.

Other crops: Also 12ha of olives (San Felice variety), 2ha of forest, plus sown field crops like wheat and maize (as fodder for livestock). 5,000 vines/ha.

Biodiversity: 2008 In 2008 bird boxes were added to cover the shortage of natural nesting places for rare birds, especially those who feed on insects which may damage vines. The entry holes were sized to keep away those types of birds who eat or damage grapes.  The main types of birds which have nested here include kestrel, tawny owl, great tit, redstart and others. Vineyard inter-rows are left to native vegetation with light ploughing for aeration and minimal soil compaction.

Organic certification: 2006 Certified organic for olives for the first time. | 2018 Certified organic for wine grapes for the first time.

Winemaking: Small tanks, so can do plot selections for Sagrantino which is fermented according to soil type (see above). Aerial photos of the vines were taken to check vine vigour on the top of the hill, the side of the hill, and the bottom of the hill. Pump over and delestage for Sangrantino, to aerate the yeast and avoid stuck ferments. Large Slavonian oak vats for ageing.

White wines

Umbria Bianco IGT, Le Tase: 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. From rented vines in Montefalco and Castel Ritaldi. 220 metres. Guyot, ‘palmetto’ and ‘vite maritata’. Vines on trees. The vineyard owner has cows, so the juice has lots of nitrogen = quick to ferment. | 2015 40 days on skins. Smooth, very savoury, easy fruit, juicy tannin (Visit 17 Feb 2019). | 2017 Slightly aromatic, lovely richness of bright salty yellow fruit (visit, 17 Feb 2019). | 2018 50 days on skins. Lees stirring. 100% MLF (into July). High level of dry extract. 3.1 pH. Bright gold, oily, vg food wine (visit, 2020).

Colli Martani Bianco DOC, Grechetto: Made from 100% Grechetto di Todi (‘G5’). See here for more on this DOC. | 2009 Described as ‘oily, a little like Alsace Pinot Gris,’ (Gilbert Winfield, 2011).

Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino DOC: Devis Romanelli told me he prefers to grow Trebbiano Spoletino variety on the plain so that it can retain its acidity whilst building flavour and sugar ripeness. It is also disease resistant. He has vines growing up a type of maple tree, the vines dating from the early 20th-century. having the grapes high above the ground allowed cereal crops to be grown beneath (two crops from one space).

Red wines

Montefalco Rosso DOC, Molinetta: Molinetta = old water mill. Styled as an everyday red. | 2016 Debut. 65% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 15% Sagrantino. 15-20,000 bottles. 

Montefalco Rosso DOC, Romanelli: 65% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 10% each Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon (in 2020 Devis told me he was going to top-graft Spoletino onto  the Cabernet after harvest as the soil is too clayey for Cab.).

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG, Romanelli2011 Mix of savoury and slightly dried fruit with lovely wild flavours, well textured, still youthful, nice wine with a bright future (visit, 17 Feb 2019). | 2012 Very dense ripe fruit (visit, 17 Feb 2019). | 2015 Lovely wild red fruit aromas and flavours, very well delineated tannins, super wine (visit, 17 Feb 2019).

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Riserva, Medea: The name honours Devis Romanelli’s homage grandfather Amedeo (‘Medeo’ being his nickname) who founded the estate in the 1970s. | 2011 100% Sagrantino. Bright, direct, clear ripe fruit, very youthful, smooth and precisely focused tannins (visit, 17 Feb 2019). | 2012 Huge wine in terms of structure and weight of fruit with new but lovely dark red fruit flavours (visit, 17 Feb 2019). | 2015 Very youthful, really juicy tannins, very direct and focused (visit, 17 Feb 2019).

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito, Romanelli: 100% Sagrantino. 5,000 vines/ha. Picked. Dried. Fermented on skins. 12 months in French oak barrels.

Spirits: Grappa di Sagrantino. 

Olive oil From 2003 the olives have been picked earlier and for each variety also at the right time. The Quatttro Varieta bottling, as its name suggests,  is from four different olive types: Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo, and San Felice. Trees are six metres apart.

Sales 2019 USA main export market.

Contact

Agricola Romanelli

Colle San Clemente, 129/a

I-06036 Montefalco (PG), Italy

Tel+39 0742 371245

Bibliography

Gilbert Winfield, 2011 Decanter Italy supplement, ‘Umbria awakes’, p74.

Visit to the estate on 17 Feb 2019, and again in 2020.