Sagrantino di Monefalco

Carmelo Messina
March 20, 2024
5 min read

In the heart of the captivating Umbria region lies a village steeped in history and viticultural excellence – Montefalco.

Nestled amidst rolling hills and picturesque landscapes reminiscent of its neighboring Tuscany, Montefalco boasts a treasure trove for wine enthusiasts: the Sagrantino di Montefalco.

Sagrantino di Montefalco, designated as a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) wine since 1992, is crafted primarily from the indigenous Sagrantino grape variety. Renowned for its thick-skinned grapes, this noble varietal yields wines of exceptional acidity, elevated sugar content, and notably high alcohol concentration, typically hovering around 14.5%. Yet, it's the wine's distinguishing characteristic – its remarkable tannic structure – that sets it apart on the global stage.

For the uninitiated, encountering Sagrantino's tannins can be akin to the sensation of biting into an unripe persimmon or, metaphorically, placing raw cotton in one's mouth. These tannins impart a drying, textural roughness, accompanied by a subtle bitterness. However, when expertly harnessed through meticulous aging in wood and subsequent bottle maturation, these tannins integrate harmoniously, enhancing the wine's complexity and depth of flavor.

The prescribed aging regimen mandates a minimum of 37 months, including a requisite 12 months in wood. This patient maturation process is essential for tempering Sagrantino's formidable tannins and unlocking its full potential.

The etymology of Sagrantino traces back to its historical sacramental use in religious ceremonies, as well as its association with the annual "Sagra" festival – a jubilant celebration of the harvest, replete with traditional dances, fairs, and culinary delights.

Despite its status as a niche wine, produced in limited quantities across just under 1,000 acres of meticulously tended vineyards, Sagrantino di Montefalco commands international acclaim. With approximately 100,000 cases produced annually, it stands as a testament to the region's viticultural prowess and commitment to quality over quantity.

Sagrantino di Montefalco presents itself in two distinct incarnations: the dry version and the lusciously sweet passito.

For the latter, grapes undergo a meticulous drying process on straw mats, intensifying their sugars and imbuing the resulting wine with unparalleled richness and complexity.

In the glass, Sagrantino reveals an alluring hue of intense ruby red, tinged with hints of purple in its youth, which gradually evolve into deep garnet tones with age. Aromatically, it captivates with notes of succulent blackberries, intertwined with earthy nuances of mushrooms, underbrush, and black olives, complemented by spicy accents of black tea, pepper, and licorice bark.

On the palate, Sagrantino unveils its full-bodied, muscular character, exuding power and density alongside assertive tannins that bespeak its capacity for extended aging. While it may demand patience, with recommended cellaring periods exceeding 8 years, the reward is a wine that evolves magnificently over time, reaching its zenith after decades in the bottle.

For culinary pairings, Sagrantino di Montefalco in its dry incarnation finds its perfect foil in robust dishes such as grilled meats, hearty stews, braised game, roast lamb, wild boar, and aged cheeses. Its versatility extends to complementing a wide array of gastronomic delights, making it a cherished addition to any epicurean's cellar.

Among the esteemed producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco, names such as Tabarrini, Tenuta Bella Fonte, Paolo Bea, and Scacciadiavoli stand as beacons of quality and tradition, embodying the essence of this storied appellation.

In conclusion, Sagrantino di Montefalco emerges as a true vinous gem,

encapsulating the essence of Umbria's rich viticultural heritage and offering aficionados an unparalleled sensory journey. With its indelible character and age-worthy pedigree, it's a wine that not only delights in the moment but also rewards patience and reverence for generations to come.

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Carmelo Messina
March 20, 2024
5 min read

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