Tenuta Vitalonga: Passion for an Ancient Winemaking Tradition in Ficulle, Umbria

On the sprawling hills of the upper Orvieto area in Ficulle, Vitalonga Estate provides a picturesque view of a characteristic landscape of neat rows of vineyards surrounded by groves of oak extending to the bordering regions of Tuscany and Lazio. In its 90 hectares of land at an elevation between 350 to 450 meters above sea level, 20 are dedicated to vineyards and 6 are planted with olive trees while the rest are woods.. The position is an impeccable work of nature and man where stretches of vineyards are neatly lined up amongst oak groves. From the highest point of the estate, upon entry, the two-storey stone guesthouse is stands with a swimming pool that overlooks the vineyards. Traversing through the vineyards, the byroad leads to the heart of the estate: the winery and the restaurant.

Historically strong with agriculture, Ficulle has been cultivated from the time of the Etruscans between the 7th and the 6th centuries BC. The agricultural conversion of the forests in the area continued with the Romans who developed the agricultural activity with good organization in places called “villae rusticae” or coutryside villas. Etruscans and Romans had left remnants of a thriving viticulture. Among the most significant legacies of the Etruscans that remained in use until about half a century ago was the technique of "vite maritata" or married vine. In this training system, the vine is like "married to the tree" or grows around the tree which is usually elm, then underneath it, crops are cultivated. As the years progressed, viticulture has turned towards French varieties like Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot and Chardonnay combined with local varieties Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Grechetto and Procanico that has brought successful results.

The Vitalonga Estate, one of the most important wine producers in Ficulle, is owned by brothers Gianluigi and Pierfrancesco Maravalle. It has been with the family for over half a century. The name of the winery is dedicated to Luigi, their grandfather, because of his love of greeting the arrival of every new vintage with a toast for long life. The brothers decided to continue the work at the winery that their grandfather started with the same tenacity and passion for the tradition of wine that they shared with their parents Fabio and Gigliola. Not long after they took over, two of their red wines, Elcione and Terra di Confine, obtained important prizes and awards.

With an annual production of averaging to 100,000 bottles, the brothers aim to be more present both in the Italian and international market focusing in North America and Europe. Their wines consistently receive various recognition for their excellence in marking the characteristics of the grapes and particularity of the territory. At the wine estate, they offer a complete immersion to the Umbrian atmosphere with the possibility to stay at the Vigneria guesthouse that has 5 bedrooms, a large living room with a fireplace, dining room and kitchen plus a dependance with a bedroom and bathroom and a swimming pool overlooking the vineyards. At the restaurant, typical dishes of traditional Umbrian cuisine are prepared and can be paired with their production of wines.

Elcione IGT Umbria 2019
A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot cultivated in vineyards with red clay soil particularly rich in fossil shells. Fermentation took place in steel vats at a controlled temperature for 14 days wherein various remontages were carried out. Ageing took place in French oak barrique for 6 months and another 6 months in the bottle. In the glass it shows a full ruby red color with a complex nose of red berries, ripe black cherries, sweet dried spices, and a hint of stone while the mouth lends fruity flavors of pronounced red berries, smooth tannins and sapidity as it finishes with persistence. Excellent drinkability that can evolve well throughout the years. 90/100

Montenibbio IGT Umbria 2017
Obtained from 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot cultivated in the vineyards with clayey-sandy soil rich in fossil shells facing south located on the hills that extend from the slopes of Monte Nibbio at an altitude of 400 meters above sea level. Vinification is with saignée of 10%, maceration for 14 days in steel vats at controlled temperature. Aged in French oak barrique of second and third passage for 9 months and another 6 months in the bottle. In the glass, it presents a ruby red color with an intense and complex nose of red fruit, dried spices, prunes and a hint of meat. In the mouth it's round and smooth with fine-grained tannins, and persistence in the end. An elegant and harmonious wine that's good for immediate drinking but also has great potential for aging. 89/100

Terra di Confine 2017
Produced with 80% Montepulciano and 20% Merlot in the northernmost vineyards of the estate with clayey-sandy soil at around 450 meters asl. After harvest, a portion of the Merlot grapes are left in the trays for drying for about 20 days when it loses 20% of its juice. The grapes go through cold maceration at controlled temperature in steel vats for 21 days and 12 months of ageing in French oak barrique then a final 24 months in the bottle before it heads out to the market. In the glass it presents a full ruby red color with an intense and complex nose of pronounced berries, ripe cherries, black plums and sweet dried spices while in the mouth it reveals a smooth play of berries and spices with an enveloping roundness and soft tannins. There is a delicate aftertaste of bitterness after the opening of the berries as it finishes with persistence. Great for drinking now and can evolve beautifully for more years. 90/100

Phiculle 2016
Born from a long research focused on the characteristics of the varieties and the distinctive climatic properties at the highest vineyards of the estate where they are cultivated, in collaboration with the renowned oenologist Riccardo Cotarella. Obtained from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc cultivated in the estate vineyards between 400 to 450 meters asl with clayey-sandy soil. Fermentation of 21 days in steel vats at a controlled temperature wherein various remontages were carried out. Ageing takes place in French oak barrique for 15 months where malolactic fermentation takes place and another 24 months in the bottle. In the glass, it displays a full ruby red color with an intense nose of interesting complexities of red berries, preserved black stone fruit, chocolate, eucalyptus, vanilla, dried tobacco, forest floor and sweet dried spices. In the mouth it presents bold structure, depth, silky tannins, enveloping richness with a persistent finish. An excellent wine that shows harmonious characteristics and great capacity for aging. 93/100

Tenuta Vitalonga

Strada Montiano, 8
05016 Ficulle (TR), Italy
Tel: +39 0763 836722
Website: https://www.vitalonga.it/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vitalongawinery