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Categoria: The WineNews Corner

Montefalco - 24 Novembre 2017, ore 09:55

THE STORY OF MARCO CAPRAI: A CASE HISTORY, IN TIMES WHEN SUSTAINABILITY IS A BUZZWORD, WHERE HE ADDS LOVE FOR THE LAND, FOLLOWING ST. FRANCIS, FOR GOOD MEASURE, SINCE ONE MUST GIVE BACK A “SOCIAL DIVIDEND” TO THE TERRITORY THAT PRODUCES GREAT WINES

The story of the wine producer Marco Caprai is all about a passion. It is the passion he feels for his land, following the teachings of St Francis, in total respect of its fruits, and what is more his land is also the land of Italy’s most beloved saint, Francis. Marco’s desire is to give back a social dividend to the land that produces such great wines, not only to the environment but also to the community and the economy. Marco Caprai’s story begins in the town of Montefalco, in Umbria, in 1971, when his father, Marco CapraiArnaldo Caprai, who was a famous Italian textile entrepreneur, decided to buy several hectares of vineyards to fulfill his lifelong dream of producing wine in the best wine territories. When Marco took over the management of the family business, he focused his attention entirely on the Sagrantino grape, calling on the collaboration and support of the top experts and specialized research institutes to study and research the grapevine. Then, in the nineties, Marco completely renovated the family wine company, from the vineyard to the bottle, through experimenting, finding better clones and breeding methods, more suitable fermentations, Marco Caprai in is vineyards in Montefalcoand an optimum refining process, and this, way before anyone else in the industry had done so. The result of Marco’s hard work, love for his land and the Sagrantino grapevine gave the Caprai winery elite status among the great Italian wineries and in 1993 the Sagrantino selection (celebrating the wine company’s first 25 years) The Sagrantino grapereceived multiple awards from the national wine guides as well as numerous acknowledgments and acclaims from the top international wine critics.
Then, it was the turn of Grecante 2015, the symbol of the “other side”, the native whites in Umbria, which was crowned by the world’s wine “bible”, Wine Spectator, on its renowned “Top 100” ranking. In addition, thanks to the launch of the Montefalco New Green Revolution project and #caprai4love, the prestigious US magazine Wine Enthusiast chose Umbria as the only Italian region among its “10 Best Wine Travel Destinations” in 2014, after having also crowned the excellent winery “European Winery of the Year” in 2012. The Sagrantino 25 AnniAs of today, the estate extends over 150 hectares in Montefalco, Gualdo Cattaneo and Bevagna; which means, in the production areas of Sagrantino DOCG in Montefalco, where wines are produced in Sagrantino Collepiano, obviously Montefalco Rosso, and last, but not least, and only because it is the newest addition, Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Spinning Beauty, next to Sagrantino Passito, to name but a few. So, let’s go back and start at the beginning with the biography of the unconventional Marco Caprai, creator of the revival of Sagrantino di Montefalco and the re-launch of its territory, who today is the recognized world leader.
When Marco Caprai gets an idea, nobody even thinks of questioning it, because everyone knows his insight will be brilliant. This is also what being a leader means (or a “superhero” Italian style, like the statues of the 21 men and women, one for each region, at the Italian Pavilion at Expo 2015 in Milan celebrated precisely for their insights, ed.). Thirty years ago, together with the family company, he saved the ancient Sagrantino cuttings from extinction, and almost “miraculously” restored the Saint Francis wine for Holy Mass, which had been created in the Middle Ages by the saint’s followers. The history of this wine goes back to ancient times, as Pliny The Elder mentions the grapes in his volume, “Naturalis Historia", and Benozzo Gozzoli, one of the most important artists of the Italian Renaissance, also portrayed the grapes in his frescoes in the St. Francis Convent in Montefalco. And it was in another convent, Santa Chiara, that Marco in collaboration with the University of Milan, saved the cuttings and created “Cobra”, the vineyard that has the most exhaustive database in the world (and continuous experimentation has led to the creation of Sagrantino Bianco, a true new “individual” with the same DNA as Sagrantino). Following his ambitious and forward looking insight dedicated to the territory, Marco Caprai headed the research and study team that carried out the project at the prestigious Agnelli foundation, creating the “Montefalco New Green Revolution”, which Caprai launched in view of the Expo 2015 in Milan, where it was acknowledged “Model of Sustainability”. The historic wineries in the Sagrantino territory are also involved in the project, and have set their goal of defining a viticulture protocol of self-diagnosis in order to monitor the quality and impact of business operations in a rigorous, objective and quantifiable manner.
Sustainability, therefore, is intended in the sense of enhancing the territory, and giving back a “social dividend” to the community that produces Sagrantino. Further, a new project for the enhancement of the artistic and cultural heritage of Montefalco #caprai4love, has been created, whose story is narrated through its many achievements. The acquisition in 2013, for example, achieved thanks also to the sales of the Cruciani Montefalco in the Heart (Caprai Group) cult bracelet, of the letter Gozzoli had written and signed in 1452, announcing his refusal of an important assignment in Florence because he was occupied painting frescoes in Montefalco. In 2014, a celebration was held in Montefalco honoring the letter together with the painting “Madonna and Child between San Domenico and St Catherine of Alexandria” by Beato Angelico, exceptionally borrowed from the Vatican Museums. In 2015, the “Madonna della Cintola” painting by Gozzoli was returned to Montefalco, and celebrated with a series of events and conferences including the participation of illustrious Italian personalities such as Antonio Paolucci, Philippe D'Averio and Vittorio Sgarbi. And just last year, in 2016, the online fundraising event of a limited edition of the Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Vigna del Lago 2012 cru (1.200 bottles total), to raise funds for the restoration of the fresco by Gozzoli, “I Grandi Francescani” dated 1452, in the central apse of the Church of San Francesco, depicting Dante, Petrarca and Giotto, went viral and was “sold out”. These great maestros are our “historical sponsors", as Daverio defined them, therefore, “our job is to restore them, returning the painting to its original splendor”, which is the same philosophy Caprai embraces.
This certainly would be enough for anyone, but not for the unstoppable Caprai. When Marco Caprai decided to demonstrate how he envisions an encounter between wine and haute cuisine, succeeding brilliantly, he created a project of true Italian elegance: the Motorhome. Motorhome was launched at Vinitaly in 1998, and from then on, the top Italian chefs have come to cook in his open kitchen, like the “host” Gianfranco Vissani, the number one Italian chef Massimo Bottura, the creative Mauro Uliassi, the ingenious Moreno Cedroni, the elegant Maurilio Garola, the “home chef” Luciano Zazzeri, the charismatic Andy Luotto, and his friend Salvatore Denaro, to name just a few of the great Italian chefs who have served their dishes in the elegant mise en place of the family brand Caprai, the “king” of textile.
Alessandro Regoli

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