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. He is currently in his 29th year as the wine columnist at the Vancouver Sun and a Partner and Principal Critic at www.winealign.comAnthony is also the co-host of the longest running, weekly, wine and food show in Canadian radio: The Best of Food and Wine. You can listen to the show across the Best of Food and Wine Radio Network multiple times per week. For air times in your city, or to listen live on the internet, check here.