Paolo Bea San Valentino Montefalco Rosso 2005

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photoPaolo Bea was one of my first introductions to the “natural wine” movement when I first had it about four years ago, well before any such wines were available in B.C. Moreover, I drank the 2006 vintage of this very same wine with dinner at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in a majestic California-local meal. Four years later thanks to Vancouver’s Sedimentary Wines, who now imports Bea, I had a chance to rediscover this beacon of Umbria and the Italian natural wine movement.

Philosophical Contradictions

Winemaker Giampiero Bea’s devotion to his philosophy is readily apparent on his website where you can find all sorts of semi-philosophical ravings about nature and our relationship to it. Much is pseudo-philosophy focused on an overly romantic, essentializing view of ‘nature’, but I will forgive the man whose intent clearly is true sighted. He also has some good points, such as technology is a supplement to natural processes, which have been developed over a far longer period of time. However, the idea that there is some sort of natural ‘equilibrium’ for all natural things is false and has been disproven by evolutionary theory.

This seems to be true of many in the “natural wine” movement, who bring together an uncomfortable union of natural “essentialism” and veneration of nature with an obsession with the minutiae that impact a wine’s outcome in a manner that is more interventionist (by having more carefully considered choices) than most of those who use artificial yeasts and stabilizers. In this way, it is a producer’s philosophy more than his or her ‘terroir’ or the ‘natural world’ that manifests in the final product.

And so it is for Bea whose wines I find to be profoundly respectful of their context and some of the most broad-minded expressions of indigenous Umbrian grapes. Bea is particularly adept at coaxing out the beautiful perfumes of the red grapes Sagrantino and Sangiovese as grown in Umbria.

Perfect Food Wine

The 2005 San Valentino (Bea’s entry level effort) is 70% Sangiovese and the rest Montepulciano and Sagrantino. The wine is quite pretty and highly aromatic, displaying its dominantly Sangiovese character with intense cherry fruit on the nose. This is easy to enjoy now, being quite open knit, fruity but with a touch of earth and secondary notes. It is not an immensely complex wine, but it is not meant to be. The tannins are a bit drying when consumed with air, so I recommend you have this with your favourite foods – game, sausage and pizza come to mind. When paired right, I wouldn’t want anything more. Drink up, in my opinion this will not develop much more complexity.

Very Good+
~$54 at Kits Wine

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