Category Archives: sagrantino

Montefalco Sagrantino- Umbria’s Jewel

I have been a big fan of Sagrantino di Montefalco from the first time I visited the town of Montefalco a number of years ago. I knew the passito version of the wine, but that visit was the first time I was able to taste and drink the dry version of the wine from a number a different producers. Now I am a big fan of both.

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Eataly was the location of the 3rd annual Sagrantino Festival held in New York City earlier this month.

The tasting included a number of producers that I had visited in Montefalco. This was an opportunity to to speak to them, taste the new vintages and find out the latest news from Montefalco. Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery, Filippo Antonelli from the Antonelli San Marco winery and Liu Pambuffetti  from the Scacciadiavoli winery were in attendance.IMG_4925

The Grape

Sagrantino is indigenous to the hills of Montefalco and the surrounding area in the region of Umbria. It has no relationship with any other known grape variety cultivated in central Italy. It is believed that the name comes from the early cultivation of the grape by monks for sacramental wine and its use by local farmers especially during religious feasts and festivals. Sagrantino Passito has been produced for many centuries but the dry version has only been on the market for about 30 years.  Today there are 74 producers of Montefalco Sagrantino and the production zone is five times its original size (122 hectares to 660 hectares).

All the wines are 100% Sagrantino. As of the 2009 vintage the wine must be aged for at least 36 months of which at least 12 months must be in oak

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Sagrantino di Montfalco DOCG 2009 Particaia The harvest takes place the in the middle of October. There is a long maceration of at least 3 weeks. Aging of the wine is in small wooden barrels of French oak-barriques or tonneaux once the malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged for a total of 36 months: 12 months in small oak barrels, 12 months in steel(this was the only wine aged is steel) vats and 12 months in the bottle.  This was the only wine aged in steel vats. It was the lightest of the wines with soft sweet tannins and a hint of vanilla.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2008 Scacciadiavoli The means drive away devils)   Harvesting takes place from the middle to the end of October. Vinification takes place for 3 or 4 weeks in French oak vats and the temperature is controlled. Aging is for 16 months 1/3 in 30 HL casks and 2/3 in French barriques and in bottle for a minimum of 9 months. This is a complex, elegant wine with intense fruit, hints of red fruit, plums, spice and a touch of herbs and leather.

Liu

Liu

Liu said that they always had the same clone in the vineyard. Sagrantino is a dark and tannic wine. Liu spoke about tannin management and how this was done in the vineyard and the winery. She said that every vintage is different and therefore the tannins will be different. In order to get a balanced wine, the grapes must be picked at the right moment and maceration is according to the vintage. She said that they have a m   selection- only one clone in the vineyard.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Antonelli San Marco. The grapes are hand picked the first week of October and there is a final selection in the cellar. Vinification involves using the force of gravity because there are two levels in the cellar. During fermentation the skin is in contact with the juice for 20/30 days and then malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine clarifies spontaneously and there is no need for filtration. The wine is aged in toasted French oak barrels for 6 months and in larger oak barrels for 18 months.

Filippo  Antonelli said that they use to use chestnut woods for the barrels buy it gave to much tannin to the wine. Now they use oak from France and Germany. The wine settles in fiberglass lined cement vats for six months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The winery is certified organic.

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Filippo Antonelli

This is a rich, complex wine with hints of blackberry, cherry and citrus. Filippo said that because of the nature of the Sagrantino grape( high phenolics and anthocyanins and tannin) this wine could age for 20/30 years. When I visited Marco at the winery a few years ago I tasted a 1985 Sagrantino which was over 25 years old and was drinking very well. I also tasted a 1985 Sagrantino passito, which was also drinking very well. Marco added that the people in Montefalco are divided on when passito should be drunk at Easter — either with the lamb for dinner or with the traditional Umbrian dessert Ciaramicola.

Filippo said that 2007 and 2009 were warm vintages and in these years the wine has citrus aromas and hints of oranges and pineapple.

He told us that he wished Sagrantino month could be  in February because St Valentino came from Umbria and the Sagrantino passito is a great combination with chocolate.

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Montefalco Sagrantino Collepiano DOCG 2007 Arnaldo Caprai.  Harvest takes place the last days of September and the first week of October. After a general crushing-destemming process, there is constant pumping over performed, as Marco said, to draw color and tannins from the skins. Maceration lasts for 30 days. The wine is aged in French oak for 22 months and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine is big, yet elegant with hints of jam, clove and a touch of vanilla. This wine seemed much less modern in style than the ones I had tasted in the past. I asked Marco if they were doing something different and he said “NO”.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tenuta di Castebuono. Hand picking of the grapes in October.  The soil is muddy clay with a good agronomic potential and resistant to summer aridity.  There is cold pre-maceration for 30 hours in wooden barrels. The wine is aged for 12 months in tonneaux and for 16 months in large barrels. The wine has hints of blackberry and blueberry with touches of cherry and leather.

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Filed under Antonelli, Castelbuono, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Momtefalco, Perticaia, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli

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

Champagne, Old Wine and Turkey


Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (linner) is traditionally served at 4:00PM at our house. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed or too late. Our Linner usually lasts for 5 to 6 hours. This year was no exception.

To start, Michele made persimmons wedges wrapped in prosciutto, followed by a chestnut soup, roast turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes.  Then we had a cheese course, followed by a hazelnut tar and caramel pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving for several years with Tom Maresca http://ubriaco.wordpress.com and his wife Diane Darrow http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com.  Diane is a very excellent baker and brought a beautiful loaf of home made bread, as well as the hazelnut tart mentioned above.  Travis and Nicole joined us this year and brought some Champagne and old wines.

The WinesChampagne Grand Cru D’ay Füt de Chène Brut 2000 Henri Giraud. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay harvested exclusively in the terroir of Aÿ Grand Cru. The wine is aged in small barrels made from Argonne oak for 12 months. The first vintage was in 1990. This is a full and rich wine with aromas of pear, stone fruits and a hint of mushrooms. It has a long lasting finish.Champagne Curvèe William Durtz Brut Millesimè (prestige cuvee) 1999 (Aÿ) made from 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier. This is a well-structured, complex, elegant Champagne with hints of herbs, dried flowers and a touch of toast.

Torre Ercolana 1982 Cantina Colacicchi – Anagni  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese dl Piglio  When this wine was produced, there were only 2 acres of vines and only 2,000 bottles were made, one fourth of them a white called Romagnano.

The wine is made by a natural fermentation, no filtration, sterilization or pasteurization. The wine is aged in barrel with four rackings a year.

I have been drinking the older vintage of this wine for a number of years and buy them in Rome at Trimani, who has the exclusive rights to the wine. The wine does not always taste the same; this is because the blend changes according to the vintage. In hot vintages the Cesanese does better so there is more of it in the blend. In cooler vintages the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot does better so their percentage is increased. The best however is when all three varieties ripen perfectly.

Burton Anderson in his book VINO describes the wine in musical terms. “My first mouthful of Torre Ercolana was like my first earful of Beethoven’s Fifth: so overpowering it left me gasping for adjectives to describe it.”  Morey-Saint-Denis “Les Sorbets” 1976 Domine B. Serveau et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is limestone and clay and the 7 hectares of Pinot Noir are in the heart of the Côte de Nuits. The grapes are picked by hand and the wine is matured in oak casks for 18/22 months. The Premiers Crus are aged 2/10 years before coming to market. This is a wonderful wine with aromas of red fruit and blackberries, round with a silky fruity feeling on the palate. It was a pleasure to drink.Reciotto Secco “Amarone” Vino della Valpolicella 1960. Bertani. This is one of my favorite producers and I like Amarone on Thanksgiving.  With turkey and all the side dishes, it makes for a great combination. So I was very disappointed because the wine was too old and tasted like sherry. Travis brought the wine.  He had had a 1964 a few days before and said it was wonderful. You never know with old wines — you take your chances and hope for the best.Alicante Bouschet 1996 Russian River Vineyards (old vines), Sonoma Country Topolos, made from 100% Alicante Bouschet from the Sequoia View Vineyards. The wine is unrefined. It was bottled December 16, 1997. Since the Amarone was not good and it was Thanksgiving, the truly all-American holiday, I decided to try this wine. It was interesting but it seemed they were trying to make an old style wine but could not get away from all the modern techniques. It was unbalanced with too much alcohol.

The winery was sold and the name changed to Russian River Vineyards and I do not know if they still produce this wine.

Because we had a cheese course and two pies, it was time for the dessert wines.Montefalco Sagrantino D’Arquata Passito Abboccato DOC 1981 Adanti 100% Sagrantino The grapes are naturally dried for two months (appassimento) followed by a slow fermentation. The wine is aged in large Slovenian oak barrels (botti). They still make a passito but the word Abboccato does not appear on the label. The wine had aromas and flavors of dry fruit, blackberries and a dry aftertaste.Anghelu Ruju 1979 Vino Liquoroso Tradizional di Alghero  Sella & Mosca (Sardinia) 100% Cannonau. This is a late harvest and after the grapes are picked they are dried in the open air for a long time. There is a long oak aging in fusti (small oak barrels of 20/50 liters). This is an aromatic wine with hints of cinnamon and walnuts. I do not think it was produced after the 2003 vintage. We ended the meal with the last of my last bottle of Romano Levi Grappa, which I bought a few years ago just before the great grappa maker died.

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Filed under Anghelu Ruju Vino Liquoroso, Burgundy, Champagne, Domaine b. Serveau et Fils, French Wine, Henri Giraud, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Passito, sagrantino, Topolos, Torre Ercolana

Umbria Comes to NYC

Mayor Bloomberg issues an Official Proclamation declaring November “ I Love Umbria Month” in New York City. There were events taking place in Eataly and Di Palo Fine foods among others. As I walked toward Eataly to attend a tasting of Umbrian wines, I could not help but think of the two major storms that we had endured in just one week:  the first was Hurricane Sandy and on this day it was a nor’easter bringing high winds, rain and snow.  Madison Square Park was closed as it had been during the hurricane and as I made my way across Fifth Avenue, I could only hope that the storm would not be as bad.

Porchetta for lunch


Only 4 of the 7 wines had made it to Eataly because of the hurricane but that was the least of the problems that Sandy had caused.Dan Amatuzzi, Beverage Director of Eataly, and Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery were the day’s speakers.  Mr. Amatuzzi spoke about Umbria and its wines in general and Mr. Caprai spoke mostly about Sagrantino.

The Wines

Bianco di Torgiano “Costelllato” DOC 2011 Terre Margaritelli made from Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Grechetto and Fiano. The winery is located on a hill called Miralduolo between Perugia and Assisi, the vineyards are 200-250 meters above see level, with clay soil and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The wine is aged for a short time in French oak barrels from the Bertrange Forest in the Nevers region.  With Chablis to the northeast and Sancerre to the southwest, this is one of the most highly regarded forests in France since the variety of oak (Quercus Petraea) has a very dense grain.

The wine is well-structured with aromas of apple, dried fruit, herbs, and a touch of hazelnut. There is a nice aftertaste with a hint of almond.  Bianco di Torgiano is not seen very often in this country. Todi Sangiovese  “Belforte” DOC 2010 Cantina Tudernum made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. The Cantina is located on the slope of Todi’s hills along the ancient Strada Tiberina. There are 3,300 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week in October. It is aged for 6 months in barrels of durmast oak (Quercus Petraea) and then additional aging in bottle prior to release. This is a recent DOC. It is a fruity, easy-drinking wine with fresh  aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and cassis.Sagrantino di Montefalco “Collepiano” 2005 DOCG 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 with concentrated red fruit aromas and flavors and undertones of vanilla.

Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito DOCG 2005 Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri made from 100% Sagrantino. The estate is on the rolling hill to the east of the Montefalco appellation. All the grapes are grown on the estate and the exposure is south-southeast. The harvest takes place at the end of October when the grapes are very ripe. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in oak barrels and then in bottle before release. The wine is bottled 32 months after the harvest. This is a full-bodied dessert wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and dried fruit. This wine for a passito also goes well with food and in Umbria they drink it with lamb on Easter Sunday.

The wines that did not make it to the tasting because of Sandy were:
Trebbiano Spoletino IGT 2011, Perticaia. This is a producer I know and have visited and like his wines but I have not tasted this particular wine.

Rosso di Torgiano “Rubesco” 2007 Giorgio Lungarotti. I have been drinking this wine since I visited the winery many years ago and consider it one of the best Italian red wines for the money.

Sargantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tabarrini Giampaolo. I do not know this producer.

Monini olive oil from Umbria was also served. It is a mild olive oil with a nutty, buttery flavor and low in acidity.

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Filed under Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Olive oli, sagrantino

Easter “Linner” with Good Friends

We like to invite friends over for Easter “linner”, as I call it, my name for the meal somewhere between lunch and dinner. I prefer this time because enjoy a leisurely meal and still finish at a “decent” hour.  As usual, we stuck to my rule of one bottle less then the number of people so that everyone goes home relatively sober. There were 8 of us and there were 7 bottles of wine.

For the appetizer Michele made crostini with avocado and bottarga, salted mullet roe, which went very well with the Champagne.  Michele always makes lamb for Easter and since Bordeaux is a classic match with lamb we had three Bordeaux a 1990,1988 and 1966. One of the guests, knowing Michele likes Burgundy, brought a 1947.

The Wine

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve 1998 (Rheims) 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. This is a full-bodied champagne, round with fresh citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. Ed McCarthy in his book Champagne for Dummies says, ”The Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve Brut is a great Champagne and clearly Veuve Clicquot’s best buy.” 1988 was a very good vintage

Champagne Dom Pérignon Oenothéque 1996 disgorged in 2008. The Oenothêque (black label) indicates that a Dom Pérignon vintage has reached either its second peak in maturity, optimized intensity, 15 to 20 years after the harvest (the wine above), or its third peak, with optimized intensity after 30 years on the lees. The cellar master is the only one that can determine when the wine has reached that optimal stage in its evolution and only then will it be released as Oenothéque. This is a champagne with great length, structure and depth, nice fruit and just starting to show a hint of toast on the palate. 1996 was an excellant vintage.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990 (Pauillac) 80-95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5-20% Cabernet Franc and 0-5% Petit Verdot, depending on the vintage. The wine is aged 18-20 months in new barrels. In 1990 the climate conditions were excellent. The yield was abundant and of outstanding quality. This is an elegant complex wine with hints of blackberries, smoke, leather, spice and a touch of vanilla in the very long finish. This wine will last for least 10 years or more.

Chateau Baron Pichon Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Malbec, the blend depends on the vintage. The wine is aged for 18-20 months in barrel. This wine is just starting to come around but should last for a number of years.

Chateau Montrose1966 (Saint-Estéphe) made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Aged in barrel from 22-24 months. In his book Bordeaux, Robert Parker states the following about this wine in 1985: “The 1966 Montrose is austere and tough on the palate, with good fruit and firm dusty tannins.”  I wonder:  what are dusty tannins? He says the anticipated maturity is between 1986 and 2010. This wonderful Bordeaux has reached full maturity.

Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Caretiers” 1947 Leroy Thanks to the kindness of friends I have been lucky enough to have drunk a few of the 1947’s from different producers. This is classic Burgundy at it best, a mature wine but not showing any real signs of age.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito 2006 100% Sagrantino Antonelli (Umbria)  As I mentioned in my last blog, the people of Montefalco have the passito with lamb on Easter Sunday. We tried it but most of the guests found it too sweet for the lamb. I guess you just have to be in Montefalco for Easter. Half bottle.

Passito di Pantelleria “Kbaggiar” NV Azienda Agricola Seraste (Sicily) This was a very pleasant dessert wine and a good way to end the dinner. Half bottle.

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Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, French Red, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino

Scacciadiavoli-Drive Away Devils

When I was the wine director for ITrulli and Vino (when it was an all Italian wine store), I would play opera in the store much to the annoyance of the owner. I am a great fan of Puccini and would play Turandot again and again. One of my favorite arias in the opera is Non Piangere Liù.

One day, a wine producer’s daughter arrived at the store for a brief internship in order to learn about the wide range of Italian wines before she went to study in Bordeaux.

Her name was Liù and her father’s winery is Scacciadiavoli (drive away devils) located in Montefalco in Umbria. She was surprised when I told her that I had been to Montefalco. Before I could ask about her unusual name, she said that her father liked Turandot so he named her Liù.

LIÙ

Whenever I gave wine classes, Liù would sit in and we talked about wine whenever we had a chance.  The weeks went by quickly and she thanked me for all my help before she was off to Bordeaux.  A few years later, I saw Liu in Montefalco and she thanked me again saying that when she had arrived in Bordeaux to study, she made a big hit because she was the only one of the students that knew about Italian wine.

April 2012 is Sagrantino month in NYC and I was invited to a number of events.  One was at Tarallucci & Vino, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and Liù was there presenting her wines.

The wines of Azienda Agraria Scacciadiavoli di Pambuffetti

Grechetto Dell’Umbria IGT 2010, made from 100% Grechetto. The harvest takes place the first ten days of September. Vinification takes place in steel tanks on the lees and malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release. Grechetto is a native Umbrian varietal. Liu said that this was a wine to be enjoyed when it is young. She described it being fresh and fruity with floral hints and good acidity.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 made from 60% Sangiovese 25% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot. The harvest takes place from the middle of September to the middle of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 12 months. She said that the wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 6 months before release.

The Sangiovese is for the acidity and the Merlot for the fruit. She added that their soil is mostly clay and Merlot does very well here. Other grapes beside Merlot can be used such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino up to 15%. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of spice and good acidity. It has a long finish and a pleasant aftertaste See…

Montefalco Sagantino DOCG 2005 100% Sagrantino Harvest takes place from the middle to the end of October. If I understood Liu correctly she said that the aging was the same as for the Montefalco Rosso but it remains in wood for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. Liu said that the 2005 vintage was given 5 stars, the highest rating by the Montefalco Consortium.

Liù said the Sagrantino is a big wine with a dark color and a lot of tannin and can age for a long time.

For me Sagrantino is one of the great wines of Italy but it is not very well know in this country. It is an elegant, complex wine with rich red fruit aromas and flavors of spice and leather, good acidity and a long finish. 

Montefalco Sagantino Passito DOCG 2004 100% Sagrantino.   Harvest is from the middle to the end of September. The grapes are dried on “graticci” (mats) until mid December.  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/part-ii-sagran…sting-the-wine/ For more information on Sagrantino.

Vinification takes place in steel tanks. The wine is aged in new barrels for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of sweet dried fruits, and hints of blackberry, blueberry and spice, a long finish and lingering aftertaste. Liu said that in Montefalco this passito is drunk with lamb for Easter.

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Filed under Momtefalco, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli

“Montefalco…Not Just Sagrantino DOCG” and my Adventures at Vino 2011

During the three days of Vino 2011, I had some interesting experiences, among them the honor of interviewing Ambassador Umberto Vattani, President of the Italian Trade Commission (ICE).  The next day, I attended the press conference on “The Future of Italian Wines: as Seen from the point of View of Leading American Wine Professionals.  I also attended seminars on Soave, the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Montefalco and attended the Grand Tasting. I also interviewed Aniello Musella, Italian Trade Commissioner in NY and the Executive Director for the US, on the state of Italian wines in NYC.

 The moderator for the panel: “Montefalco… Not just Sagrantino” was Lisa Granik MW.

The panel was made up of representatives from the 5 wineries presenting their wines.

Wine writers and wine buyers made up the audience.

 Professor Attilio Scienza Head of Enology Studies at the University of Milan was the main speaker and he talked about the terroir in terms of geography and soil composition.  The principal grape in Montefalco Rosso is Sangiovese and Professor Scienza said that Sangiovese comes from a combination of grapes some of them from Southern Italy: Calabrese di Montenuvo, Mantunico Bianco and Gaglioppo from Calabria and Nerello Macalese from Sicily. Ciliegliolo was the only one from Tuscany.

 Sangiovese has been a traditional grape variety in Central Italy and Umbria. It is the basic grape in Montefalco Rosso and Montefalco Rosso Riserva. Both of these wines are a blend of several grapes: 60/70% Sangiovese, 10/15% Sagrantino and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon with some other varieties like Colorino.

 The five producers that presented their wines used stainless steel, barriques, tonneaux and botti (large oak barrels of 25hl) in different combinations to age their wines. Only one producer, Antonelli, does not use barriques. All the producers agreed that the two vintages that we tasted, 2006 and 2007 they were very good vintages. The harvest for the Rosso takes place during the second and third week of September.

  Montefalco Rosso Riserva

Filippo Antonelli at the Grand Tasting

  Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva 2006 Antonelli Made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Zone: Montefalco. Soil composition is clay, calcareous. Vineyard is 1250 ft above sea level. The vine density is between 3300 and 5000 per hectare and the training system is cordon spur. Vinification takes place in stainless steel for 6 months and the wine is aged for 6 months in 500 liter-tonneaux and then for 12 months in 25 liter carati. It is aged another 12 months in the bottle before it is released. The wine has flavors and aromas of red fruit with hints of cherries and strawberries,good acidity and a nice finish and aftertaste. Fillippo Antonelli said that one of the problems they have in the zone is sugar. The alcohol level of the wine is 14.5%.  All of the wines were between 14/14.5% alcohol.  Antonelli is one of the oldest producers in the zone and I like their style of wine.

 Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva 2006 Signae Cesarini Sartori 65% Sanviovese, 15% Sagrantino,15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Zone: Gualdo Cattaneo and Montefalco. Soil composition is clay limestone and sea deposits from a natural lake. The vine density 5,208 per hectare and the training system is cordon spur. Vinification is in botti, tonneaux, and barriques and the wine is unfiltered. It is aged in the cellar for 36 months and aged in bottle for another 12 months before release.

This was a bigger more tannic wine with aromas and flavors of cherry, vanilla and a hint of black pepper.

 Montefalco Rosso DOC Riserva “Campo Della Maesta” 2006 Podere Casale Di Montefalco   I found it to be even more tannic with hints of red fruit.

Same grapes and vinification as the wine above but it was said that they have only a “few” barriques. Same Zone also.

 Montefalco  Rosso Doc Riserva 2007 Perticaia 60% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino,15% Colorino and 10% Merlot. Zone: Montefalco Soil composition Clay, with lake and sea deposits of pebbles.

Professor Attilio Scienza

Vine density 5,000 per hectare. Training system bilateral cordon spur. Vinification- cold soak for 24 hours, spontaneous fermentation at controlled temperatures and prolonged maceration on the skins.  It is aged 12 months in French barriques and eight months in stainless steel. I had visited the winery a few years ago and do not remember seeing any new oak for the red wine. The wine had dried fruit aromas and flavors with undertones of dried prunes. If I understood correctly when Guido Guardigli the owner of the winery was explaining his vine training system Filippo Antonelli said that with the bilateral cordon spur the grapes ripen two weeks earlier.

 Some of the members of the audience did not see the need for a Montefalco Rosso Riserva. They felt that there was not much difference between the regular and the riserva.  They are both made from the same grapes and aged in the same way, the only difference is that the regular is aged for 18 months and the riserva is aged for 30 months of which 12 has to be in wood. The wine buyers in the audience felt that the consumer would be confused by having two types of this wine.

 Montefalco Sagrantino  

For more information on Montefalco Sagrantino and what is going on in Montefalco see my two articles

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/01/363/   

 https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/

  Montefalco Sagrantino is a very big wine and it can age for many years. It has a very deep color and a lot of tannin. All of the wines are between 14/14.5% alcohol. The harvest takes place the second and third week of October.

 Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2006 Novelli Zone is Montefalco and it is 100% Sagrantino. Soil composition is clay with a good amount of pebbles. Vine density 5,000 per ha and the training system is Cordon spur. The wine is fermented in stainless steel for three weeks and aged for 18 months in selected new oak barriques. It is aged for another six months in bottle before it is released. This is a big rich wine with good fruit flavors and aromas of blackberries, black currants and a touch of vanilla from the oak.

 Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2006 Perticaia 100% Sagrantino  Zone Montefalco, vineyards 1080 ft above sea level, soil composition clay, 5,000 vines per hectare and the training system is Bilateral cordon spur. Cold soaking takes place for 24 hours, spontaneous fermentation at controlled temperature with prolonged maceration on the skins. The wine is aged first in barriques for 12 months, then in stainless steel for 13 months and finally in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine had aromas and flavors of cherry with hints of spice and cinnamon.

  Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2006 Antonelli 100% Sagrantino. Vinification and aging, same as the Rosso.  This wine is rich and powerful but elegant at the same time. It has aromas and flavors of fruit, blackberries with a touch of prune, and a great finish and aftertaste.

 Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2006 Signae Cesarini Sartori 100% Sagrantino. Vinification and aging, same as the Rosso except it is aged for 48 months. This wine was a little different with aromas and flavors of coffee, cacao with some vanilla. There were also hints of spice and pepper.

 Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2006 Podere Casale Di Montefalco Zone Gualdo Cattaneo.100% Sagrantino Vinification and aging, same as the Rosso. This had many of the same flavors and aromas as the wine above except for a hint of balsamic.

 One of the wine buyers in the audience told the producers that they were making wines that were too big and too tannic and that they should make wine that were more consumer friendly and could be drunk sooner. I felt that this was the wrong message.

They should not be making wine that is going to taste like many other wines on the market. They should not make a wine because they are told it will sell. They should keep their unique quality and make the best wine that they can and it will sell.

 Next time my interview with Ambassador Vattani, Chairman of the Italian Trade Commission.

 Charles Scicolone On Wine every Wednesday at 6:05 Valerie’s NY

www.wor710.com

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Filed under Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, sagrantino