Sagrantino Montefalco: A Fabulous Red from Umbria

Sagrantino is one of my favourite indigenous Italian grape varieties.  Its home is in the Montefalco Zone around Perugia in Umbria, Italy, where it has been grown for at least four centuries.  St. Francis of Assisi is known to have loved the stuff.  Today, it’s vinified into a very concentrated red wine with lively acidity and al dente tannins and deep ripe blackberry and plum fruit.  I’ve written in the past that it’s a wine you mud-wrestle with.

Despite its quality Sagrantino languished in obscurity until quite recently.  It was often partly dried before fermentation to produce sweet wine.  In 1970 there were fewer than 10 hectares (25 acres) of Sagrantino left.  Visionary vigneron Arnaldo Caprai and his associates began to survey the survey the surviving wines and moved on to cloning in collaboration with the Agriculture Department of the State University of Milan.  As a result, the variety is planted on more than 700 hectares (1,730 acres) and vinified by a number of producers.

The best Sagrantino de Montefalco I’ve ever tasted was Caprai’s Reserva version.  It was a revelation, but a bottle cost something like $60 Canadian.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I spotted Villa Mora Montefalco Sagrantino 2006 DOCG on my retailer’s shelf priced at $19.95.  The angels don’t sing for this one, but it’s absolutely delicious with the grape’s trademark acidity, tannins and luscious fruit for less than would be justified by its quality.  If you see this bottling, grab a six pack.  It will partner with grilled or smoked meats and birds or even a nice ‘burger.



About iwolkoff

Irvin Wolkoff is a psychiatrist and wine journalist who has been a wine enthusiast and collector since his university days.
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