Comments, Articles & Reviews of Montefalco Vineyard's natural red wines
Below are articles and reviews of our wines...
For Baldassarre Lucaroni it is in his heritage passed down from his family where his grandfather and father had land under vines and interests in wine making. Born in Umbria Italy the idea originally gelled for him when he was living in London and promoting, and selling his uncles wines in England in the 1960s.
Baldo’s Bold Red Vision
When colourful Italian immigrant Baldo Lucaroni decided to quit his homeland for WA in 1975, he did not expect to be pioneering the grape variety Sagrantino from his native Umbria. He plans to begin planting the old Italian variety on his 800-hectare mixed farm in the Great Southern Porongurup area as soon as the cuttings are released from quarantine and believes his move may lead to a new red wine for WA.
Sagrantino, mainly grown in Montefalco, produces a lively if at times tannic wine that sometimes is blended with sangiovese. But Baldo will have none of that. He reckons his Porongurup plateau, a cool 300m above sea level, will produce a dry red that many will enjoy. That assessment is based on 20 years of experience in the US as export director for his uncle’s Umbrian wine, Lungarotti.
Previously, the 61-year-old who studies Latin, ancient Greek, philosophy and law, grew and made wines for his family, learning from his grandfather. He chose WA because of the cleaner environment, much smaller population and cheaper land, planting sangiovese and nebbiolo as well. Each will be a different varietal, “Personally, in Australia, I believe the
grapes are harvested too late,” he says “The result is too much sugar and extremely high alcohol and low acidity. I believe in good barrels of acidity and sugar, rather than the other way around. You can acid adjust as much as you like but it is not the same.
“I think here in the Porongurup, we can get much closer to the Italian style yet still have a distinctive Australian wine that is not quite as tannic. It should be ideal with Italian food.”
~ by Mike Zekulich of Winestate Magazine - 2003
Balthasar Indermuehle of Narrabri NSW
”First of all I would like to congratulate you on a Sangiovese like I have never had in Australia. A full bodied yet refined quality I to this day could only find in Italian Sangioveses!
I am in love with it, and it brings a bit of my home closer. While I'm from Switzerland, I consider Italy my culinary home. I have lived in Australia for 5 years now, and am very happy to have found you.”
-Balthasar Indermuehle of Narrabri NSW
Jason Boudville talks to Baldo Lucaroni of Montefalco
Jason Boudville talks to Baldo Lucaroni of Montefalco about the Porongurups and the future.
1) Why did you decide the Porongurups for a vineyard location?
Baldo Lucaroni: “My long-time friend Thierry Faiveley [from Domaine Faiveley, Nuits- Saint-Georges, Burgundy] was visiting WA and tasting various wines from different areas. His conclusion was that the Porongurup sub-region had the closest grape growing conditions to Europe with a longer growing season. This allows a more balanced ripening and producing a more complete wine, as far as flavour complexity and tannin structure goes. His comments influenced my decision to purchase land here and plant vines.
2) What are the greatest growing challenges (chief viticultural hazard)?
Baldo Lucaroni: “I wouldn’t know where to start [laughs]. First I learnt that kangaroos love eating young vine leaves so fencing off the entire vineyard was a solution. Then, as we decided not to use chemicals of any sort, controlling weeds was a problem until we started using the old method of thermal weed control using steam. Then, a few copper and sulphur applications (especially in a dust form) help save the vineyard from mildew. Then there is the bird challenge. If I had known before planting my vineyard, that unless I cover all the vines with nets that I wouldn’t have a crop, I wouldn’t have planted any vines! I hate bird netting.”
3) What impact do you think climate change will have on the Porongurups?
Baldo Lucaroni: “We can already see the effects of climate change. Lately our main rainfalls are in summer and not in winter [as it used to be]. Because of humid conditions it will be more difficult to control powdery and downy mildew, botrytis etc. Also persisting rains and clouds may influence ripening. It may be still too early to quantify the full impact of this ‘global warming’ and climate changes…”pristine and natural environment of the area. The ethos of Montefalco is to produce ‘naturalwine’ with methods that are sustainable and organic, so it was a logical choice to plant the vineyard.”
Sulphur dioxide added in the wine making process has been attributed to worse- than-normal hangovers and allergic reactions. Removing it comes at a cost though; preservative-free wines run the risk of microbial spoilage, oxidation and accelerated aging. But ably surviving the scrutiny of the panel, the Cab Sangio is a bright feather in the cap for wine maker Baldo. The deep amber hued wine was “an earthy score moving towards herbal cherry” as MT put it, with “bright juicy plums.” AM had “a bit one dimensional, flat finish and broad,” while I had notes comparable to MT’s: herbal juicy-suppleness, round and giving good balance to acid. An impressive preservative-free wine; we scrawled our notes in ink and archived it in red.
We all looked at each other and gave a consensual nod to the overall impression of this wine. The blood-red coloured wine had such a “cherry aroma” that all panel members bar me had it down as their primary descriptor. “Pruney red fruits.” There are lots of creases and crevices this wine could flow into: “lifted red currant and cherries – rich ripe and multifaceted” wrote MT. AM thought “complex savoury dark cherry – attractive but simple.” There is a slight CO2 spritz on the palate, but other than that, it’s varietal, plush, round and the savoury characters dance on the horizon of your palate.
Spice Magazine Autumn 2011
Pauline Tresise of Slow Food Perth -March 2007
For Baldassarre Lucaroni it is in his heritage passed down from his family where his grandfather and father had land under vines and interests in wine making. Born in Umbria Italy the idea originally gelled for him when he was living in London and promoting, and selling his uncles wines in England in the 1960s. The fashionable drink at the pubs was Beaujolais. It was so expensive, he mused that back home for the price of a glass of Beaujolais in England he could produce 4 litres of wine in Italy. So home he went and planted 100 acres of vines in 3 years.
His uncle Dr. Giorgio Lungarotti, well known oenologist in Italy had established in the early 1960s a vineyard at Torgiano in Umbria. Baldo had learnt from his uncle that there is no need to use all the modern chemicals, as they are destructive to the soil and our health. So why get rid of the proven traditional methods of using Bordeaux mixture and sulphur if they still work! Not long after in 1968 one of the red wines of Lungarotti’s, the Torgiano Rosso was amongst the first red wines in Italy to receive a DOC status. His uncle Dr. Giorgio Lungarotti bought Baldo’s grapes and under the Lungarotti label the wine was now exported to Canada and the United States of America. Baldo went to live in America and worked in liaison with his uncle, exporting the wines from Italy, marketing and promoting the Lungarotti wines. In the late 1970s the wines were named as one of the ‘ten hottest brands’. He is revisiting his past and bringing this to the land in the south west.
Baldo Lucaroni born in Bastia Umbria has journeyed far, and here in the Porongurups in 2000 he bought 1900 acres of land for a family project and sanctuary. The land borders onto the Porongurup National Park. The vineyard is called Montefalco after a town in Umbria where his sister has a vineyard and is the area that Sagrantino, the beautiful indigenous grape variety that has DOCG status is grown and is used to make a unique and exciting wine. Six acres of his land is planted to vines, mainly Sangiovese, with some Nebbiolo, Cabernet Franc and Sagrantino. The first 4 buckets were harvested in 2004 and the first vintage in 2005. All Baldo’s wines are grown on chemically free soil and no added insecticides or herbicides are used in the vineyard. Even the anchor holding posts at the end of the rows have been brought in from Northern N.S.W. Cypress Pines, which are white ant resistant. He wanted to make a headache free wine so no SO2 is used at all; as he says with hand harvesting it is easier to avoid its use. Although organic wines are allowed to use 20ppm (parts per million), legally other wines can use up to 350ppm, although this may now be changing. He wanted to prove to himself that here in Australia he could make a decent wine with lower alcohol, one that would enhance the food not overtake it.
In 2003 Baldo bought 200 guinea fowl to help reduce the bugs, weevils, earwigs, slaters, grasshoppers and locusts, and even though they were incredible bug devourers the guinea fowl proved to be a delicacy for the eagles/falcons. Little did we know when naming the vineyard Montefalco (Mount Falcon) that the falcons would play such a symbolic and significant role.
He is revisiting his past and his goal is to make a Great Southern Wine by experimenting with the grapes he has grown and so finding out which varieties are more suitable for his land.
Montefalco – Porongurups Western Australia
The Special reserve Sangiovese scored well:
Luscious red and black fruits, crushed red apples, anise, sweet tobacco and a dense sappy feature. The palate was full and concentrated, savoury and persistant, with a beautifully crafted tannin and a faint tart finish. 16.8/20 (I am really interested to see how the wine develops.
Sommelier Restaurant Amusé 64 Bronte Street East Perth WA 6004