The Road to Umbrian Food & Wine
Each region in Italy is unique and has a certain charm. Umbria provides yet another example of this. Perugia is the regional capital, and the Medieval town of Assisi and the Basilica of St. Francis, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are also located in this region. Umbria is appropriately referred to as the “Green Heart of Italy” due to its central, inland location that is without a coastline or common border. However, this lush, green, landscaped region resides in a prime location, as it has Tuscany, Marche and Lazio on its list of neighbors. Umbria is truly right in the heart of the boot-shaped peninsula.
In terms of the vino, Umbria mostly produces DOC (Denominazione Di Origine Controllata) wines. However, there are two DOCG (Denominazione Di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wines- Montelfalco Sagrantino and Torgiano Rosso Riserva. Both are produced in Perugia, but while the Sagrantino can be secco or passito, the Torgiano Rosso is only riserva. While the Sagrantino grape is the indigenous varietal, other varietals are also planted and used for blending. Therefore, Umbria also has many beautiful wine trails to explore. There’s the Montefalco Sagrantino wine trail, which has over 74 wineries, along with the Todi, Orvieto, Torgiano and Grechetto di Assisi wine trails. Umbria produces plenty for the winelover’s palate!
Alongside other typical local specialties, Umbrian cuisine is characterized by pork, olive oil and truffles. In Umbria, you can find not only truffles, but truffle oil (olio al tartufo) and truffle butter (burro di tartufo) and truffle sauce (salsa al tartufo). Moreover, truffle hunting is a popular tradition in Umbria. There are different types of truffles or tartufo found in the Umbrian region. This month (October), marks the beginning of white truffle season. White truffles, or tartufi bianci, are almost exclusive to Italy. They grow in Tibertina Valley, Orvieto and Gubbio in Umbria, as well as some areas of Piedmont and throughout Tuscany. Nevertheless, white truffles rare and, therefore, extremely expensive, selling for over $5000 a pound. Black truffles, or tartufi neri, on the other hand, are more common and more affordable. Black truffles are grown around the Norcia and Spoleto areas of Umbria. They are known for their aromatic scent and exquisite flavor. I decided to cook with black truffles for my exploration of Umbria with the Italian Food, Wine & Travel group. The dish of choice was Black Truffle Linguine with Shrimp or Tartufo Nero Linguini con Gamberi.
Black Truffle Linguine with Shrimp
1 lb of linguine
1 lb of large shrimp, cleaned and devained
2-3 whole black truffles or 50 g jar of black truffles
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
Freshly ground sea salt (to taste)
Fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)
Sprinkle of Parsley (to adorn)
Note: This recipe has been performed with both fresh and jarred truffles. Although a jar used for this recipe, it was by no means an improvisation. In fact, the black truffle linguine proved to be an award winner in my house! Lastly, some recipes call for butter and or cream, but this one used neither, and the dish lacked nothing at all.
Cook linguine until it’s al dente. As the linguine is cooking, prepare the sauce. Put the olive oil and garlic in a pan and sauté on medium heat. Do not let the garlic burn. Add the sliced truffles and sea salt and dry white wine. Note the fragrance of the truffles! Yum. Intoxicating. Sauté and allow the sauce to bubble. Add the shrimp and simmer until the shrimp turn bright pink/white (about 1-2 minutes.) Do not over-cook the shrimp!
Remove from the heat. Add Parmesan cheese to suit your taste. Use tongs to fold the linguine into the sauce until completely distributed. Sprinkle fresh black pepper and garnish with parsley. If you have fresh truffles, shave one truffle over the linguine. Serve immediately.
We selected two DOCG wines from Umbria, a 2007 Goretti Sagrantino di Montelfalco and a 2009 Tenuta Col Falco Montefalco Sagrantino. To accompany our meal, we opened the 2009 Tenuta Col Falco Sagrantino. It was absolutely delicious! I was pleasantly surprised with how well the wine paired with the dish. It really accentuated the flavor of the truffles and was a nice support. This particular wine was aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 24 months. It was a full-bodied red, rich, robust and elegant with black cherry and licorice flavors. It had soft tannins and a smooth finish. Between the Black Truffle Linguine and the Montelfalco Sagrantino, the experience was absolutely an aromatic adventure that delighted more than just our sense of smell and taste; it was truly a feel-good food and wine pairing.
See my Truffle Roasted Chicken and Hedone food and wine pairing.
Did we wet your appetite? It doesn’t stop here….
Continue on our Umbrian journey with other fellow bloggers. Don’t forget to join our live chat on Twitter at #ItalianFWT at 11am EST. We can’t wait to her about your Umbrian experiences.
Vino Travels: Immersion in Umbrian wine with Sagrantino
The Palladian Traveler – Marcello’s Big Fat Italian Christening
Orna O’Reilly – Castelluccio di Norcia: On the Rooftop of the Apennines
Culinary Adventures with Camilla – Roasted Flank Steak with Zucchini Mint Pesto with an Umbrian Merlot
Italophilia – Visiting Assisi in the Enchanting Umbrian Hills
Just Elizabeth – The Intense Flavours of the Valley Museum
Rockin Red Blog – Beauty and the Beast
Enofylz Wine Blog – Umbria’s Sagrantino: Call It a Comeback
Food Wine Click – Orange is the New Red: Paolo Bea Santa Chiara & Umbrian Steak on FoodWineClick
The Wining Hour – Taste Umbria – Black Truffle Linguini with Shrimp & Montefalco Sagrantino
Cooking Chat Food – Rigatoni with Collard Greens & Sausage with Wine from Umbria