120-Year-Old Vines and Paolo Bea
2007 Paolo Bea "Arboreus"
Farming - Saving - the Treasures of Montefalco
The Bea family has made it a point to save some very important trees.
Because these trees are home to an extraordinary collection of very old, pre-phylloxera Trebbiano vines that are trained to grow up, and around, the trees. The picture, below, says it all.
Now that Bea is onto his third vintage from these ancient vines, we can say confidently that the wine takes Trebbiano to a very impressive place. Bea's Arboreus deserves a place with the structural Trebbianos of Valentini and Pepe.
When I sat down last September with Giampiero Bea and tasted through the entire range of the wines, the 2006 "Arboreus" emerged as my surprise favorite. As soon as the 2007 landed, I made an appointment to taste it.
I was struck by the same quality in the 2007 as I was in the 2006 - a singular blend of opulence and rigor. If anything the 07 has a bit more verve and luminosity.
Along with Bea fanatics and lovers of Italian esoterica, fans of Rhône whites should take a look. There are stone fruits as well as honeyed, floral notes not unlike great Condrieu or other Rhône whites.
However, Arboreus offers a discipline and balance that many Rhone wines lack. There's also a texture that results from the three weeks plus that the wine was macerated on the skins. The wine is riddled with minerals, perfumed orange peel and a zing-y Meyer lemon acidity that allows a big wine to be focused, clear and bright.
The story with the vines is that in the late 19th Century, when these vines were planted, the idea was to raise the vines above the ground, in essence freeing up the soil for other crops.
With the modernization of farming even the footprint of the trees has became troublesome; big tractors, after all, have problems navigating around the trees efficiently. And so these old vines, these old trees, have been disappearing.
Enter Paolo Bea: The family has been convincing farmer's not to cut down these trees, agreeing to pay "rent" for the vines in exchange for the fruit they produce.
As with all the winemaking at Bea, the viticulture is organic (as it always has been), natural yeasts are used and the wines see extended tank and bottle aging before they are released. This, the 2007 "Arboreus," is the current release.
This Umbrian white is singular, it is also spectacular. The wine certainly has the concentration and structure to age for a few years in the cellar and I would guess it will be fascinating to follow.
As stated, this is only the 3rd release of this wine and the response to our offer for the 2006 was shocking - so if you are interested, please give us your maximum order and we'll do our best!
To order, please email us at email@example.com or call the store at (212) 980-9463.
Crush Wine & Spirits