Anthony Gismondi on Wine
Saturday, November 3 2018

An Italian Adventure: Umbria

By: Anthony Gismondi
A medieval castle meets a modern chardonnay

Each week, until December, we're releasing a short film in which we take a closer look at an Italian wine region, filming it through the eyes of the people who are making the wines.

This week, we visit Castello della Sala in Umbria, perched on a hilltop just across the Tuscan border and some 18 kilometers from the historic city of Orvieto. The spectacular medieval manor sits in 500 hectares of rolling hillsides. The estate’s 170 hectares of vineyards grow at 220 to 470 meters above sea level and are planted to chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, sémillon, pinot blanc, viognier, a small quantity of traminer and riesling and the traditional procanico and grechetto grapes.

The property has two histories. It was built in 1350 for Angelo Monaldeschi della Vipera, whose family arrived in Italy following Charlemagne’s arrival in the ninth century. The Vipera family contended for control of Orvieto and finally succeeded in 1437. Fast forward to 1940, Marchese Niccolò Antinori (father of Piero Antinori) wanted to produce white wines and turned his attention to Umbria and to Castello della Sala. 

In summer of 1979, 25-year-old agronomist Renzo Cotarella joined Castello della Sala and immediately began to work on making white wines that could age and stand out for their character and personality. His quest became an obsession and the rest, as they say, is history. We caught up with Cotarella, now CEO and chief winemaker for Marchesi Antinori across Italy, California and Chile, at his old stomping grounds to hear more about his ‘babies,’ Cervaro della Sala and Bramito now standard bearers of the Italian white wine sector. The adventure continues…

Watch the rest of the Italian Adventure Series.

Further study: Castello della Sala

Cervaro della Sala


Written By: ag
Anthony Gismondi
Anthony Gismondi

Anthony Gismondi is a Canadian wine journalist and one of North America's most influential voices in wine. For over 30 years, he has been the wine columnist for The Vancouver Sun. The twice-weekly column is distributed across Canada through the Postmedia Network to millions of readers. In addition, Anthony hosts the BC Food & Wine Radio Show, broadcast in 25 markets across B.C. and available as a podcast on major platforms. He launched Gismondionwine.com in 1997, attracting one million monthly users from 114 countries. It continues to be a valuable resource full of tasting notes, intelligent wine stories and videos for the trade and consumers. Conversations with wine personalities are available on his  YouTube Channel.