How Chiesa del Carmine Revived the Excellence of an Abandoned Viticultural Umbrian Valley

Unseen from the main roads is a valley as big as 124 hectares of cultivated land with rows of vineyards and olive orchards surrounded by natural woodlands. Unpaved white roads bring you to the heart of this valley, Chiesa del Carmine, the wine producer that has been taking out wines highlighting the excellence of the territory which has been acclaimed in the past for the impressive quality of its white wine.

The life of Chiesa del Carmine Vineria started in 2009 when the English couple Jeremy and Jacqueline Sinclair bought the 124 hectare land around their house, Sodo Pulito, the old patron house of the valley, in addition to the 6 hectares of olive groves that surrounds the house. The newly-purchased land included the 13th-century Chiesa del Carmine from which they got the name of the winery. When they took over, the whole area was in a state of disrepair due to abandonment. Previously, in the 1940s the valley had been a flourishing farmland composed of vineyards, olive groves, cereal crops and a large dam maintained by tenant farmers and their families who lived in the properties under the patron house. Chiesa del Carmine was the place where everyone would meet on Sundays and stay together. But as the years wore on, the people started to look for better possibilities in the cities until the whole valley was left empty and abandoned.

When the Sinclairs took over, they dove into the project of slowly putting back the valley to its former productive state with up-to-date technological system and continue the production of the olive oil and the once acclaimed wines produced from the grapes cultivated in the valley with organic farming. The first was the dam in the valley which went through a thorough repair to irrigate the vineyards and provide water to the estate properly. In the following years, the old vineyards were uprooted and replanted with Sangiovese, Sagrantino, Merlot and Trebbiano while the century-old olive trees were put back to good health to start producing oil again. They also planted more than a thousand oak and hazelnut trees for truffle growing which was foreseen as future investment on the Umbrian specialty.

The year 2013 was marked as the most important year for the Chiesa del Carmine estate for it had seen excellent results in all its projects. The year started well with the employment of renowned oenologist Giovanni Dubini of Palazzone Winery and winner of “Premio Cangrande” at Vinitaly (producers who have made outstanding contributions), as consultant winemaker. His philosophy, the same as the owners’, is to produce wines simply and traditionally to take out the characteristics of the grape varieties and the territory. The luxury 8-room accommodation at the church with a swimming pool was completed, the first Chiesa del Carmine DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil was bottled and released for selling, and the first bottle of wine, Vino della Chiesa 2013, was produced from the estate vineyards, a red blend of Sangiovese, Sagrantino and Merlot.

Over the years, the estate, managed by David Lang, has continuously expanded its operations in organic farming, enotourism, and production of quality wines that reflects the excellence of the territory. Wine and oil sales, reservations at the 8-room accommodation and wine tastings have increased tenfold in the estate. The wines have continuously received recognition and awards by well-respected Italian wine critics and guides starting in 2017 for the Indigeno Trebbiano 2016 and Il Campanile 2016. In 2021, Indigeno Trebbiano 2019 was awarded a gold medal at the International Wine Competition USA Sommelier Choice Awards. The estate was also awarded with the “Culinary Experience Award” both in 2019 and 2020 in the Travel & Hospitality Awards, a global recognition in the travel industry. 

As of February 2022, Chiesa del Carmine is producing 6 labels of wines produced simply and traditionally following organic farming guidelines, with an annual production of 21,000 bottles. The new barrel room, and the wine tasting area next to the state of the art DeManincor kitchen are projected to be concluded at the beginning of April 2022.

Wine tastings are very popular at Chiesa del Carmine and they have different kinds that can adapt to everyone’s needs (prices are per person): from Piccolo Assaggio for all six wines accompanied with bread and extra virgin olive oil at €10; Degustazione Classica for all six wines accompanied by seasonal bruschette and local Umbrian cured meat, cheese from local farms with truffle honey and a 1.5-hour winery tour at €35; and the Degustazione Superiore (by appointment only) for all six wines paired with a full meal of appetizer, first course of pasta or soup, main course and dessert at €75. While waiting, children (under 15 years old) can also have fun on their own with their packages of Snack at €12.50 for a snack and fruit juice or soft drinks; Classica for one main course, dessert and fruit juice or soft drinks at €17 and Superiore for a first course, main course, dessert and fruit juice or soft drinks at €30. Truffle Degustations start with a truffle hunting with an expert truffle hunter and his dog for one morning ending with a truffle tasting of various preparations with truffles, local cured meat and cheese paired with all six wines is at €135 per person (prices per person go down as the number of persons in the group grow); and a full lunch based on truffles paired with all six wines composed of appetizer, first course of pasta, main course and dessert at €185 (prices per person go down as the number of persons in the group grow).

Indigeno Trebbiano 2019
Produced with 100% Trebbiano cultivated in vineyards with southwestern exposure between 260 to 295 meters asl with calcareous soil, loam clay structure rich in alberese, quartz stones, and other rock fragments. Fermentation for 20 days at constant temperature in stainless steel vats with selected yeasts then refined for a few months in the bottle prior to its release. In the estate’s quest to restore native grape varieties and and focus on its characteristics, this wine was produced showing the pure expression of Trebbiano. It presents a straw yellow color with an aromatic fresh and crispy nose of white flowers, citrus rind, fresh herbs and faint hints of flint and baked pastries. The mouth corresponds with the nose with a pleasant acidity, sapidity, and persistence. A beautiful wine to enjoy with simply cooked seafood dishes or aperitif with young cheese. 93/100

Indigeno Trebbiano 2018
The grapes come from the same vineyards as the 2019 vintage, but were harvested earlier, at the end of September, with a shorter fermentation of 15 days with selected yeasts and refinement in the bottle for 3 months prior to its release. The color is a darker shade of straw yellow with an intense and clean nose dominated by hydrocarbon, tropical fruits, dried lemon rind and flint with a marked acidity and persistent finish. Its evolution shows the great potential of this grape variety cultivated in the soil of Chiesa del Carmine. Paired excellently with potato flan with Beschamel sauce and black truffles, as well as cappelletti with capon broth and cream of Parmigiano Reggiano. 94/100

Rosa della Chiesa 2020
Produced from 100% Sangiovese cultivated in vineyards between 270 to 325 meters asl with southwestern exposure on calcareous soil, loam clay structure rich in alberese, quartz stones and other rock fragments. The grapes were softly-pressed, skin contact for one hour and fermented at constant temperature in stainless steel vats. In the glass, it presents a medium salmon color with a crispy and fresh fruity nose particularly strawberries and pomegranate while in the mouth it leaves a clean line of acidity and sapidity as it ends with a note of minerals. 90/100

Rosabella della Chiesa 2020
Produced with 100% Merlot cultivated in vineyards between 270 to 325 meters asl with southwestern exposure on calcareous soil, loam clay structure rich in alberese, quartz stones and other rock fragments. The grapes were softly-pressed, skin contact for one hour and fermented at constant temperature in stainless. It has a bright medium pink color with a crispy and fresh clean nose ripe red cherries, raspberries, cherry blossoms and herbs while the mouth presents a pronounced acidity, roundness, minerality and ends with persistence. 89/100

Rosso del Carmine 2018
Produced with 100% Merlot, harvested at the beginning of September, two weeks after the Merlot destined for the production of Rosabella. The grapes are cultivated in vineyards at 270 meters asl with southwestern exposure on calcareous soil, loam clay structure rich in alberese, quartz stones and other rock fragments. The fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature between 25°C to 28° for 20 days. The maturation is partly in various French oak barrels of 1st to 4th passages and partly in stainless steel vats. After blending the two halves, it is kept in the bottle for 6 months prior to its release. A medium-bodied red wine with full purple color and ruby red highlights, an intense complex nose of underlined ripe dark cherries cinnamon, nutmeg, ripe bananas and mature plums while mouth corresponds with the aromas, persistent acidity, touch of saltiness and long finish. 88/100

Bell’Angelo 2019
Produced with 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Sagrantino cultivated in vineyards between 270 to 325 meters asl with southwestern exposure on calcareous soil, loam clay structure rich in alberese, quartz stones and other rock fragments. The grapes were handpicked and bunch-selected between mid-September and the end of October, according to the variety. The fermentation on skins takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of between 25°C to 28°C for 20 days and the maturation takes place in French oak medium-toasted barrique of 1st to 4th passages (but mostly new, depending on the vintage) for a year and then aged in bottle for a few months prior to its release. In the glass, it presents a ruby red color with distinguishing reflections of purple and an intense complex nose of black cherries, cinnamon, dark plums, pepper, licorice, tobacco, and chocolate while the mouth gives a more interesting perspective of ample flavors, fine grained tannins, velvety, good acidity and excellent finish. 91/100

Il Campanile 2017
Produced from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Sagrantino and 10% Merlot cultivated in vineyards between 270 to 325 meters asl with southwestern exposure on calcareous soil, loam clay structure rich in alberese, quartz stones and other rock fragments. The grapes were handpicked and bunch-selected between mid-September and the end of October, according to the variety. The fermentation on skins takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature of between 25°C to 28°C for 15 days and maturation takes place in French oak medium-toasted barrique of 1st to 4th passages (but mostly new, depending on the vintage) for a year and then aged in bottle for a few months prior to its release. This full-bodied red wine has a ruby red color with an intense ample nose of mature plums, nutmeg, bell pepper, cinnamon, dried tobacco leaves, mocha and notes of animal. The mouth is enveloping with dried tobacco leaves, dark cherries and plums, sapidity and evident acidity with silky tannins and excellent persistence. Even greater in the next five years. 92/100

Chiesa del Carmine Vineria

Strada Castiglione Ugolino, 70
06134, La Bruna (PG), Italy
Tel: +39 347 8642310 / +39 335 8484017
Email: vineria@chiesadelcarmine.com
Website: https://chiesadelcarmine.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carminechiesa