Regarding 120-Year-Old Vines and Paolo Bea

Posted by CrushWine

120-Year-Old Vines and Paolo Bea
2006 Paolo Bea "Arboreus"
Farming - Saving - the Treasures of Montefalco

Paolo Bea is one of Italy's great cult winemakers, widely known for producing Sagrantinos of incredible depth and nuance.

Today, we ignore those wines.

Because there is a really beautiful project going on at this winery and it revolves around an extraordinary collection of very old, pre-phylloxera Trebbiano vines that are trained to grow up, and around, trees. (The picture, below, says it all.)

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.

And this is where the focus of this offer changes. As worthy as this project is, as unique as the origins are, the fruit these vines produce is intense and the wine singular. Sitting down with Giampiero Bea and tasting through the entire range of the wines, the "Arboreus" emerged as my surprise favorite.

The wine combines a truly unique blend of opulence and rigor. It is a rich wine: The juice spends a good two weeks on its skins offering the "Arboreus" a textural element that is fascinating. It is a kaleidoscopic white, with a slew of fresh stone fruit as well as honeyed, floral notes not unlike great Condrieu or other Southern Rhône whites. Yet, the "Arboreus" feels both deeper and more compact than most Southern Rhônes, which can sometimes come off as blowsy or too alcoholic.

The key to this complex white, without question, is its freshness, it's drive. This is a powerful white with a truly stunning force: a creamy, lemon and orange-rind acidity that powers across the palate, absolutely riddled with minerals, keeping the entire wine in focus, in balance.

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 2006 "Arboreus," is the current release.

It is also only the 2nd release of this wine; as you can imagine, not much is made. 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.

Please give us your maximum order and we'll do our best. To order, email us at or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Stephen Bitterolf
Wine Director
Crush Wine & Spirits

2006 Paolo Bea "Arboreus"