Tag Archives: Giampaolo Tabarrini

The Proof is in the Bottle

This is the story of four men. Farmers, Winemakers, Community builders, Umbrians.

This is the story of Roberto DiFilippo, Federico Bibi, Giampaolo Tabarrini and Albertino Pardi. Umbrian winemakers, colleagues and friends.  But we could have just as easily told this story with different names – Roberto Dionigi, Duccio Pompili, Peter Heilbron or a host of others.   The love of the land, of the region’s traditions, of the wine that Umbria’s winemakers make is universal amongst them.  To them, it is simply what they do.  To us it is unique.  To us it is inspiring.

Over the course of this weeklong food and wine tour our winemaker friends have shared their passions, their stories, their love of what they do.  Each one practices their craft differently but at the end of the day, they do it all the same because each in his own way has discovered the universality that connects what they do.  Some are organic.  Some are biodynamic.  Others practice traditional farming methods.  But regardless of the label we apply or the strictness of the practices they follow they all value sustainability.  Above all they seek to sustain the patrimony that is their land. To nurture it, to make it healthier every day.  So they can grow the best grapes.  So they can pass on this patrimony to their children and their children’s children.

Each respects others’ differences, but they all share the same universal belief.  Each looked us in the eye and said that good wine is made in the fields, not in the cantina.  That in order to make good wine you must grow good grapes.  Healthy grapes that reflect the soil in which they grow.

The proof is in the bottle.

One of them told us of an experience he had in Turkey, where a certain winemaker extolled his practice of adding this and that in the cantina to make up for grapes that spent days in the sun before fermenting.  This, our friend opined, perhaps a bit too generously, is just a different approach.  The wine, he told us, was “technically good.”  It had been corrected in the winery.

Our winemakers prefer not to correct mistakes in the winery.  Because you can make bad grapes “technically good.”  But the excitement in wine is not in being technically correct, the excitement is in feeling something alive in your mouth.  Something that vibrates with the rhythms of the fields and the sun from where it came.  You can correct flaws and make something “technically good” but you can’t give it life.  You can’t give it personality.  Only the land and the sun can do that.  And that is what these four men have spent their lives learning.

Their wines are simple in the very best sense of the word.  They are made from healthy grapes grown in well-tended fields.  They are transformed from juice to wine with knowledge and experience that does not rush, that does not cut corners.  Because while technology can minimize risks and defects, only time can produce great wine.

This week we have enjoyed many wines at many good meals and have created many pleasant memories around the table.  But the lessons of these humble, passionate, patient, giving and caring winemakers – farmers, community builders, Umbrians – will stay with us long after that glorious taste has faded away.  And it will leave a taste as sweet and as satisfying as the wine itself.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

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This is the story of four men. Farmers, Winemakers, Community builders, Umbrians. This is the story of Roberto DiFilippo, Federico Bibi, Giampaolo Tabarrini ...

Opera Wine

OW2016_gruppo_02We came to Verona on this visit to experience VinItaly, Italy’s biggest and most important wine expo that takes place annually in this northern Italian gem of a city. Housed under many roofs, thousands of exhibitors show off their wines to importers, distributors and retailers. Until this year the show was open to the public for at least one day but the incredible crush of the mass public on those open days caused VinItaly’s organizers to rethink this policy and this year it was open only to “trade” members. Thank you Via Umbria for giving us this modicum of credibility in order to snag a credential and an entry ticket.

IMG_0595But if VinItaly is becoming more exclusive, even more exclusive yet is Opera Wine, which we had the honor of attending on the eve of VinItaly’s opening. Organized by VinItaly in conjunction with the Wine Spectator, Opera Wine is an exhibition within an exhibition, showcasing what Wine Spectator has deemed to be Italy’s “best 100 wines.” Our good friends Giampaolo Tabarrini and Daniele Sassi from Giampaolo’s Tabarrini winery were honorees this year and our meal ticket. When Daniele offered us an entry ticket some months ago, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to sample these A List wines and meet their charismatic proprietors, even if it meant having to don a coat and tie.

Catching a glimpse of Giampaolo Tabarrini in formal dress is about as common as seeing Bigfoot at the Met. But upon entering the Palazzo della Gran Guardia we headed to the Tabarrini table so we could see it for ourselves. And Giampaolo did not disappoint. Among a sea of short, tight fitting fashionable blue jackets with narrow lapels, elegant silk neckties and stylish shoes, Giampaolo stood out in his garish red blazer and Italian tricolore flag bowtie.   But it wasn’t just his attire that made him stand out. The man’s gas tank is filled with nitro while others are running on unleaded. A blur of activity with a perpetual smile and a twinkle in his eye that is visible from the next galaxy, Giampaolo tirelessly worked the room after room of producers, buyers and press, laughing, hugging and befriending everyone he could lay eyes or hands on. The secret to his ability to connect? It’s genuine.

IMG_0742After exchanging our hugs with Giampaolo and Daniele the former gave us some great advice that we took to heart for the next two hours. “Don’t miss out on drinking the wines from Piemonte. They are beautiful!” And indeed they were. Barolos mostly, from the biggest names in the business. We tasted and savored, met some of the owners and reacquainted ourselves with some we had met before. We recognized a few labels that we carry at Via Umbria and introduced ourselves, only to find, in the case of Bisol, that their rep had already spent an afternoon in our Georgetown store.


TV cameras lit up, interviews flowed like wine and wine flowed like wine. And for two hours we truly were in another world, one inhabited by what Wine Spectator believes are the 100 best wines in Italy. Some may take issue with their particular list, but one thing is undeniable. To enter Opera Wine is to enter a truly special world, inhabited by truly special winemakers and their truly special wines. And it is a place that one truly does not want to leave.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy


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We came to Verona on this visit to experience VinItaly, Italy’s biggest and most important wine expo that takes place annually in ...

My Dinner with Giampaolo

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Friday evening marked the inaugural event in our upstairs event space at Via Umbria, a special winemaker dinner with Giampaolo Tabarrini, owner of the Tabarrini winery in Montefalco. Perhaps it was just a case of beginner’s luck, but the evening was magical.

Twenty something wine enthusiasts gathered in our ground floor retail space at 1525 Wisconsin Avenue at 7:30pm for cocktails and an opportunity to mingle and chat with the evening’s special guest. Prosecco (not Giampaolo’s) flowed and hors d’oeuvres were passed as the upstairs room was finalized and readied for the dinner by Corcoran Caterers, who would be providing the meal.

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When the hour arrived the group headed upstairs to find the dining area dazzlingly set out with a long banquet table and lots of wine glasses. As the guests were seated Giampaolo was formally introduced to the group. A fourth generation winemaker, Giampaolo Tabarrini has brought the family’s estate international acclaim (Giampaolo was featured in this month’s Wine Spectator), as well as helping to put Montefalco and its most important wine – Sagrantino – on the map.



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Giampaolo making friends.

The evening’s featured wine, Giampaolo’s DOCG Sagrantino Colle Grimaldesco is part iron fist, part velvet glove. Garnering 95 points from Robert Parker it has won Gambero Rosso’s coveted Tre Bicchiere award for more than one vintage. Giampaolo led the group through a tasting of the Sagrantino as well as his unusual 100% sagrantino rose’ – Bocca di Rosa – and his justly popular Montefalco Rosso which is a blend of sangiovese, sagrantino and barbera grapes, the latter of which he argues is indigenous to Umbria, rather than it’s adopted home of the Piemonte. Each wine was matched with delectable course.

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The treat of the evening was the raffle. For every case of Colle Grimaldesco purchased the buyer received an entry in the evening’s raffle to win an all expense paid Via Umbria wine tour in Umbria from March 26 to April 1 next year. Calling our tour Vinopalooza, the seven day, six night itinerary includes visits to 9 wineries, dinners and lunches with Montefalco winemakers (including a visit to Tabarrini winery and dinner with Giampaolo) and local sommeliers, visits to Montefalco and Bevagna and a special cooking class with a local chef. Needless to say there was a great deal of activity and at the end of the night our new friend Sue was chosen the lucky winner, to join at least three other winners at future Tabarrini wine dinners this December.

This amazing evening, which ended with a number of guests enjoying a cigar and a nightcap of Colle Grimaldesco in the second floor courtyard was anything but the result of beginner’s luck. With a great deal of planning and hard work we established proof of concept that Via Umbria’s second floor, which will be renovated and built out after the new year to include a demo kitchen, is a great space to hold special events.

And for those who were unable to join us last Friday, mark your calendars for December 4, 5 and 6 when we will be hosting three more Tabarrini wine dinners with special guest Daniele Sassi, Tabarrini’s head of sales and marketing. Or better yet, why not head to EventBright and get your ticket for one of the dinners while there are still spaces available. And in the meantime, visit our sister site – Experience Umbria Wines and buy a bottle of the Colle Grimaldesco today!

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

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      The treat of the evening was the raffle. For every case of Colle Grimaldesco purchased the buyer received an entry in the ...