Tasting Sagrantino di Montefalco

I’ve said this before and will say it again — Sagrantino di Montefalco is one of the great wines of Italy.  As a grape it ranks right up there with Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Sangiovese.

Sagrantino a is big complex wine with a very dark color, rich red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of spice, leather and prune, good acidity and a long finish.  It is a wine that can age for many years.  For more information on Sagrantino see http://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/part-ii-sagrantino-di-montefalcotasting-the-wine/

Sagrantino originally was a passito or sweet wine.  A little over 40 years ago they also began to make a dry version. Sagrantino in both its forms is not very well know in the U.S so whenever I have the opportunity I like to write about the wine.  They are a good buy as most of them are around $40 a bottle.

The Wine Media Guild had a tasting and lunch at Felidia restaurant featuring the wines from Montefalco in Umbria.

The speakers were Guido Guardigili of Perticaia, Peter Heiborn of Tenuta Bellafonte and Marco Caprai of Arnaldo Caprai.

Here are the Sagrantinos that were at the event along with one white wine, which I really liked.

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Trebbiano Spoletino 2011 Perticaia 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. Harvest takes place the third week of October. A soft pressing of the grapes takes place under inert gas. Cold static clarification  of the clear must in stainless steel tanks and the wine rests for 6 months on the fine lees. I visited this winery a few years ago and Mr Guardigli did a tasting of this wine with some local cheeses and it was a great combination. $24

Sagrantino 2007 Perticaia  The harvest takes place in the second week of October. Maceration is for at least 3 weeks with temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aging is in small French oak barrels – barriques or tonneaux –  for 12 months until the malolactic fermentation has been completed, then 12 more months in vats followed by 12 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, a touch of prune and a hint of cherry, $48IMG_2873

Sagrantino 2008 Romanelli the vineyards are at 350 meters, the soil is silt-clay and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. After the grapes are hand harvested they are destemmed and lightly pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation with frequent pumping over and maceration lasts for 45 to 60 days. After racking, the wine is aged in French wood barrels ranging in size from 225 liters to 2,500 liters. The wine is filtered before being bottled and remains in the bottle for 10 months before release.

Sagrantino di Montefalco “Collepiano” 2007 Arnaldo Caprai.   Made from 100% Sagrantino from the Collepiano vineyard at 200-300 meters above sea level. The soil is clay-calcareous and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. The training system is cordone speronato and the harvest takes place from the third week in September to the beginning of October. The wine spends 24-26 months in French oak barriques; Marco said that some of the barriques were second passage. It is kept in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. This is a big modern style Sagrantino and the most expensive of the tasting. It has concentrated red fruit aromas and flavors and undertones of oak and vanilla. $60IMG_2863

Sagrantino 2008 Tenuta Bellafonte This is their first vintage and their vineyards are 12 years old and are 260 to 320 meters above sea level. The training is cordone speronato and there are 5,500 plants per hectare. Mr. Heilborn explained that the grapes are not crushed, only destemmed, and are put into vats where they start to ferment without any additional yeast. Maceration takes place through the pressure on the peels and lasts about two weeks. When asked if anyone else does this for Sagrantino his answer was “no”. After the wine rests for a few weeks and is decanted a few times and is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of not less than 30 hectoliters. The malolactic fermentation takes place naturally, activated only by the cellar temperature. The wine is checked and decanted as needed for the 40 months that it remains in the oak barrels. He added that the wine is bottled without filtration and any deposits at the bottom of the bottle are an indication of the guarantee of such production choices.

Sagrantino 2007 Antonelli  Harvest begins in the second week of October, with hand picked grapes placed into boxes and then a final sorting.
Vinification is by gravity with fermented on the skins for 15-20 days at a temperature of 25 degrees; followed by malolactic fermentation. Clarification is spontaneously without filtration. Aging  in 500-liter oak barrels lightly roasted for 6 months, then in 25 hl oak barrels for 12 months; assembly and clarification takes place in cement tanks for 3 months and the wine remains in the bottle for at least 12 months before release. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of blackberry and plum with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. I visited this winery when I was in Montefalco a few years. They make excellent wines and the highlight of the visit was a 1985 Sagrantino that was 25 years old at the time. The wine was drinking very well and it proves that Sagrantino can age. $38

Sagrantino 2006 Tenuta Castelbuono- -How can I not love this winery when they say “The decision to use large barrels over small barriques was crucial to the creation of a wine with such a long aging potential”? There are 6,250 vines per hectare and the training is spurred cordon. There is a cold pre maceration for 30 hours in wood barrels. Skin contact is for 15 to 20 days and the wine is aged 12 months in large barrels and 12 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with aromas and flavors of blackberries and blueberries and a hint of leather. $37IMG_2869

Sagrantino 2007 Scacciadiavoli (Drive away devils) 2007 The vineyards are at 900 feet with a south/southwest exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 2,300 vines per hectare.   Harvest takes place at the end of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 16 months. The wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 9 months before release. $39IMG_2862

Sagrantinio 2008 Le Cimate The 19 hectare vineyard is at 360 meters with a south/southeast exposure. The soil is clay moderately calcareous with 4,400 plants per hectare. After the grapes are crushed and destemmed the skins are macerated for 20 days with three pumpovers each day. Aging is for 36 months of which 8 are in barriques and 4 in large barrels. The wine is filtered and put in bottles for 6 months before release. $NVIMG_2861

Sagrantino  2008 Colle del Saraceno –Az. Agr. Franceseco Botti This may be the oldest winery in Montefalco producing Sagrantino. It is a very traditional winery. The vineyards have a southern exposure. The wine has  an aromas of dried fruit with hints of prune and spice and a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $NV

Sagrantino Passito 2008 Colle Del Saraceno-Az. Agr. di Francesco Botti. There is a long period of natural air drying of the grapes. This is a big rich wine with flavors and aromas of blackberry, cinnamon and dried fruit– it was almost liquor-like. $NVIMG_2875

Sagrantino Passito 2008 Cantina Colle Ciocco the harvest takes place at the end of September. This wine is produced from select Sagrantino grapes left to wither on the vine for over 3 months and the yield is very limited. After several rackings the wine is aged for one year in 5HL oak barrels. This is a wine with intense aromas and flavors of blackberries, dried cherries and a hint of spice. It is a dessert wine but I have been told that at Easter in Montefalco they drink it with lamb. $NV

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2 Comments

Filed under Antonelli, Arnaldo Caprai winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Perticaia, sagrantino, Sagrantino passito, Scacciadiavoli, Tenuta Bellafonte, Umbria

2 responses to “Tasting Sagrantino di Montefalco

  1. Thanks for the detailed write up; saw some other sagrantino reviews and am kicking myself for not having explored it before. Not a varietal I remember seeing often at the local cork-n-jug type liquor stores, so I’m guessing it takes some hunting around to find?

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